The faculty of the Rutgers Department of Journalism and Media Studies most strongly condemns the arrest on June 1 of Asbury Park Press (APP) reporter Gustavo Martínez Contreras while covering protests in Asbury Park against police brutality. Contreras was shooting video of the protests when he was taken into custody. Such on-the-ground reporting is essential not only for journalists to perform their duty but also for the public to learn the truth in matters of public importance.
Although charges were dropped, we are disturbed that such an egregious violation of the First Amendment and its protection of freedom of the press has happened in New Jersey, particularly during this critical time in New Jersey and American history.
We affirm our support for the courageous reporting of Gustavo Martínez Contreras as well as other reporters covering the ongoing protests. This arrest is part of a very troubling national pattern of assault on press freedom. US Press Freedom Tracker has as of June 3 documented 233 total press freedom violations, including 41+ arrests, 153 assaults (125 by police, 27 by others) and 39 instances of equipment/newsroom damage.
We strongly urge all law enforcement officers and elected officials in the state of New Jersey to stand against police brutality, racism, and the assault on members of the press and the public’s right to peaceably assemble.
*Image from msn.com*