Saturday, May 5, 2007

Journalists attacked, injured by cops in L.A. melee

The use of force by Los Angeles police against reporters and videographers covering the immigrants rights rally in Los Angeles this week came despite a 2002 legal settlement calling for the L.A. police and city officials to recognize journalists' right to cover public protests even if there is a declaration of unlawful assembly and an order to disperse.

Several journalists were attacked and injured at MacArthur Park, where police used batons and firearms against people doing their jobs.

Under the five-year-old settlement, the city is supposed to assign a press liaison to such events and to set up designated media areas. The pact resolved a lawsuit brought on behalf of seven journalists who said they were assaulted by police while covering the 2000 Democratic National Convention in L.A.

Peter Eliasberg, an ACLU lawyer who helped negotiate the settlement, said that based on broadcast news reports he has heard and viewed, "the police went way over the line," using force that "violates the law and the Constitution."Marc Cooper, associate director of the USC Annenberg Institute for Justice in Journalism, said the video he viewed of the clash led him to believe that the use of force by police was "unjustifiable and excessive.""From what I saw, it just seemed gratuitous to go after the reporters," Cooper said. "They weren't really in the way, they didn't really pose a threat and, of course, they were trying to do their job."

For the full Los Angeles Times report check out --,0,4971632,full.story?coll=la-home-headlines