05/30/2020 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 05/30/2020 17:47

May 30 2020 SAG-AFTRA Protests Louisville Police Officer Assault on Journalist ... Read More

Los Angeles, CA -- SAG-AFTRA, a national union representing 160,000 actors, broadcasters and recording artists today released the below statement protesting the attack on journalists Kaitlin Rust and James Dobson by a Louisville police officer:

'Last night, a Louisville, KY police officer aimed and fired pepper balls at WAVE3 News reporter Kaitlin Rust and photographer James Dobson. Rust and Dobson are professional journalists represented by SAG-AFTRA who were on assignment covering protests arising out of the police killings of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd.

'When the officer fired on them, they were following police instructions, behind police lines, and were not interfering with police activity. Both Rust and Dobson were obviously in performance of their duties as journalists. They were carrying professional production equipment and Rust was wearing a bright yellow reflective vest.

'SAG-AFTRA condemns the reprehensible actions of this police officer who, without provocation or justification, fired upon journalists who were doing their jobs. The assault also had a traumatizing effect on viewers at home who watched the officer aim and fire repeatedly during the live broadcast.

'This was a brazen attack on two unarmed citizens. It is also an attack on our democracy and the people's right to know how those on whom we confer power are using that power.

'Whether perpetrated by the public or by the state, acts of violence on journalists bringing news to the communities they serve are a betrayal of our nation's founding principle that a free press is necessary for the maintenance of a free government. ​

'As citizens of this democratic nation, and as a labor union representing broadcast journalists and other media professionals, SAG-AFTRA unequivocally champions the First Amendment rights of journalists to gather information and report the truth. We stand with any journalist who finds his or her ability to report on our government challenged or compromised.'