BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The Louisiana chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists is calling for local officials to drop charges against all journalists who were arrested while covering protests in Baton Rouge.
"While it is clear that law enforcement officials have a job to do, journalists must also be able to exercise their right to report on issues affecting the public," said Sergy Odiduro, president of the statewide chapter. "The right of the freedom of the press, which is so faithfully enshrined in our Constitution, should not be trampled on by overzealous law enforcement officials. In order to keep our citizenry informed, it is imperative that journalists be allowed to conduct their jobs without interference."
Several journalists were among the over 100 people arrested on Saturday, July 9. The journalists were there to cover the protest outside the Baton Rouge Police Department Headquarters. Most were charged with obstruction of a roadway.
East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore III responded to the request to have the charges dropped:
The protest was related to the officer-involved shooting death of Alton Sterling, which happened at the Triple S Food Mart on Tuesday, July 5. People have gathered across Baton Rouge to participate in vigils and protests since Sterling's death. Things became heated, however, Friday when an unscheduled protest started outside BRPD Headquarters.