Radio & Television News Association

Saturday, May 12, 2007

SPJ and Press Club letters to Chief Bratton

Open Letter to Chief William Bratton from the Board of Directors of the Los Angeles Press Club May 2, 2007

Chief William Bratton
Office of Chief of Police
Los Angeles Police Department
Parker Center
150 N. Los Angeles Street
Los Angeles, Calif. 90012


Dear Chief Bratton:

As Los Angeles' oldest news media organization, we wish to express our concern about police officers' attacks on news reporters and photographers yesterday during the immigration rally in MacArthur Park. There is no excuse for these attacks which sent several news professionals to the hospital for treatment of their injuries.

The press pass issued by your department clearly identifies reporters and photographers. It's doubtful that your officers could have mistaken newspeople for protesters. The MacArthur Park attack was not an isolated instance. LAPD officers shot credentialed reporters and photographers with non-lethal projectiles that also caused injuries during the 2000 Democratic National Convention.

Besides the investigation into the incident that you have already ordered, we urge you to take extra steps to ensure these deplorable actions against the press do not reoccur. We urge you to require that division and bureau commanders order special roll calls to make it clear to every patrol officer and detective that news professionals are impartial observers who are off limits to attack, abuse or arrest as long as they are just doing their jobs. If our organization can be helpful in any regard to policy, please let us know.


Diana Ljungaeus
Executive Director
Los Angeles Press Club for


o - o - o

The Board of Directors of the Greater Los Angeles Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists wishes to express its grave concern over the conduct of LAPD officers toward members of the news media in the course of dispersing demonstrators in MacArthur Park following the day-long political march and rallies in downtown Los Angeles Tuesday, May 1, 2007.

Video footage, second-hand reporting and first-person accounts by reporters and crews for several broadcast outlets strongly suggest that officers may have overreacted and assaulted news personnel who were either appropriately attempting to cover a breaking news story, or were attempting to comply with police orders to clear the area.

We note that Mayor Villaraigosa and Chief Bratton have publicly expressed their own concerns about the matter, and that the mayor reportedly has asked the chief to oversee a “complete and comprehensive review of this incident, including deployment, tactics and use of force.”

We applaud the mayor’s and the chief’s commitment, and we urge that this be undertaken as expeditiously as possible, with the full findings to be made public at the earliest opportunity.

Looking beyond this incident, however, we request that Chief Bratton consider convening a working group that would include representatives of the Greater Los Angeles Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and other leading local journalism organizations to review current LAPD protocols for dealing with media personnel in such situations for possible revisions and improvements to minimize the likelihood of similar occurrences in the future.


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