After fighting a long and hard trial Palestanian American Des Moines registered reporter, Andrea Sahouri was released and found not guilty of criminal charges over her coverage of the Black Lives Matter protests. She has testified that she did not resist arrest and had repeatedly identified herself as a reporter to the police. This story captured the attention of many news outlets and reporters around the world, with individuals and human civil rights groups claiming that this was an attack on press freedom. In a letter that was cosigned by 150 other groups including NAACP chapters and news outlets, the Iowa Freedom of Information Council said, “there was no legitimate reason” for the prosecutors to proceed with criminal charges against Sahouri. Her employer, at the Des Moines Register, also published an editorial article demanding Polk County John Sarcone dismiss the charges, calling them “a clear infringement on the freedom of the press”. This event has concerned many news reporters and writers about the future and protection of individuals who partake in press and media for occupational reasons. So what happened?
In an interview, @andreamsahouri says she believes race played a part in the state's motivation behind her case, saying it's easier for officials to attempt to argue a woman of color wasn't following police orders. https://t.co/2MmTa2vobr— Linh Ta (@linhmaita) March 10, 2021
Andrea Sahouri was released and testified to Officer Luke Wilson, who arrested her, that she was part of the press, but he refused to listen and still took un-needed action. They attacked her and pepper sprayed, and then arrested her. Sahouri has claimed that when everyone else was running from the police in the crowd but she didn’t feel the need to run because she was not doing anything wrong. When the officer was coming her way she waved her arms in the air and yelled, “I’m press” several times but she felt unheard as they still proceeded to arrest her.
The arresting officer, Luke Wilson claimed that when he was trying to arrest Sahouri, she tugged her arm away, and Robnett grabbed her other arm trying to tug her away from him. In his court hearing he said, “I was charged with interference for trying to pull away from my grasp, as I charged Mr. Robnett when he tried to interfere with my custody.” Sahouri denied resisting arrest, and Robnett spoke out that he was not trying to pull Sahouri away.
Acquitted.— Andrea May Sahouri (@andreamsahouri) March 10, 2021
(Photo credit: Ted Nieters/Polaris Images) pic.twitter.com/sUkjJHQ4gg
Sahouri and her then boyfriend Spenser Robnett, both faced misdemeanour charges of failure to disperse and interference with official acts. The case was sent to the jury this week. The Jury declared that Sahouri and Robnett were in fact not found guilty. In a later tweet she wrote, “Acquitted”. She also issued a statement where she thanked her family, friends, colleagues and everyone else that was by her side through her case. She wrote, “I’m thankful for the jury for doing the right thing, their decision upholds freedom of the press and justice in our democracy.”
by Mariam Asif – YLT Staff