Radio & Television News Association

Thursday, June 15, 2006

News Organizations Protest Unreasonable Restrictions


Los Angeles –– Media organizations today strongly protested yesterday’s restrictions placed on them by police officers at yesterday’s evictions of protestors from a so-called urban garden southeast of the civic center.

In a letter to both Los Angeles police agencies, the Radio & TV News Assn. of Southern California demanded an explanation as to why reporters were “precluded from gaining clear access to a news story of substantial interest to the public.” Earlier an attorney for the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) also queried the actions taken by LAPD.

Text of the protest letter follows:

Dear Chief Bratton and Sheriff Baca:

”This office represents the Radio and Television News Association
of Southern California, an organization whose members include the major
news outlets in the Los Angeles area. This letter protests, in the
strongest possible terms, the unconstitutional restriction on the rights
of journalists to cover the Urban Garden eviction in Los Angeles on June
13, 2006. For no valid reason whatsoever, reporters were prohibited
from gaining access to a public sidewalk, on the east side of Long Beach
Boulevard at 41st Street. Instead, the journalists were
ordered to stay to the west of train tracks that ran parallel to and
west of the sidewalk. As a result, the media were precluded from gaining
clear access to a news story of substantial interest to the public.

“The presence of many law enforcement officials at the scene did
not assist in resolving this problem. Reporters objected to the
restrictions; LAPD representatives, who were apparently charged with
maintaining the perimeter while LASD representatives carried out the
eviction, refused to alter the perimeter that had been established by
LASD. A public information officer for the LAPD who arrived near the
end of the incident apparently expressed regret at how the matter had
been handled. Without speculating as to the possible motive for the
effort to keep reporters at an improper distance from a news event, RTNA
wishes to lodge this protest, and asks for an assurance from your
offices that the matter will be investigated, and steps will be taken to
prevent a repeat of the incident.

Very truly

Royal F. Oakes
General Counsel,

cc: Steve Kindred, President, RTNA”

# # #

For comment, please call Messrs Oakes or Kindred as follows:

Royal Oakes
Barger & Wolen LLP

Steve Kindred
President, RTNA

Or call RTNA for assistance


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