Journalists are warned to take precautionary measures while covering possible violent events in Washnington during next two days. Hundreds of protesters are expected to join a “white civil rights rally” in Washington, D.C., on August 11 and 12 to mark the one-year anniversary of the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, which became violent and resulted in the death of one woman.
A coalition of local organizations is planning counter-protests in Washington on the same weekend, beginning on August 11. There are additional events also expected in Charlottesville to coincide with the Washington rallies. These demonstrations are taking place against a backdrop of hostile rhetoric against large sections of the media. Journalists should keep in mind that if violence breaks out they could face arrest by police or be the target of physical or verbal assault by protesters.
This has already happened at other protests. According to the US Press Freedom Tracker, 31 journalists have been arrested at protests and 36 have faced some form of physical attack or interference at protests since the beginning of 2017. In January 2017, nine journalists were arrested as part of a kettle during inauguration protests.
Journalists are encouraged to be on the lookout for agents provocateurs in the crowd whose sole intent is to harm the media for doing their job. Committee to Project Journalist’s (CPJ’s) Emergencies Response Team issued safety advisory for journalists covering or planning to cover these protests.
Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press will have attorneys on the ground in both Washington and Charlottesville to provide emergency legal support to journalists covering the protests and counter-protests. Journalists who need legal assistance can call the Reporters Committee’s hotline at 1-800-336-4243 or contact the Reporters Committee via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Journalists are advised to consider plugging the emergency number into their phone, and carrying it in a separate piece of paper should their phone be confiscated or lost.