Reporters Without Borders condemns arrest of reporter covering a Black Lives Matter protest

Reporters Without Borders condemned the arbitrary arrest of local reporter Jack Highberger while the emmy-award winning reporter for Fox 9 (KMSP-TV) in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, was arrested while covering a Black Lives Matter protest on the side of highway I-94.

A video posted on his Facebook page depicts him speaking into a microphone and describing the arrest of several protesters around him. The video then captures his own arrest by an officer who told him “you’ve gotta get going or you’re going to be next…we already told you many times to get out of here.”

According to the Hennepin County police station, Highberger was charged with unlawful assembly and spent several hours in detention.

Once released, Highberger posted the video of his arrest and stated in a comment that “like all the other journalists on the side of I-94 Monday night, I was there for one reason. To do my job. I have no intention of stopping.”

Although Highberger’s arrest and the arrest of the protesters around him were conducted peacefully, it is very concerning that a reporter was taken into custody when he was clearly not part of the protest.

“The United States, the country of the First Amendment, cannot afford to keep journalists from reporting. The ability of reporters to freely report should not be hindered by arbitrary arrests”, affirms Delphine Halgand, the US Director of Reporters Without Borders. “We urge the US authorities to not leave police abuses unpunished and to do everything possible to guarantee the safety of American journalists.”

Reporters Without Borders condemned the charges filed by the St. Louis County Police Department in August against two journalists who covered last year’s protests surrounding Michael Brown’s death in Ferguson.

At least two journalists were attacked or arrested by police during the Baltimore protests surrounding Freddie Gray’s death between April 12 and April 28 of this year.

These events mark an alarming trend of curtailing freedom of the press in the United States. Since 2013, the U.S.’s ranking on Reporters Without Borders’ World Press Freedom Index has fallen by 14 points. It is now ranked 49 out of 180 countries.

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