Police officer: “You’ve got no help here. The best thing you can do is keep quiet. You cannot help these people out at all.”
Andre Lamar a reporter for The Dover Post: “Sir, I’m reporting for the press.”
Lamar was detained June 9 by Delaware State Police as they arrested protestors at a demonstration in Camden. In the video, Lamar is heard repeatedly identifying himself as a member of the press, to no avail.
At one point, the officer tells him, “You’ve got no help here.”
Across the region, reporters are being attacked, arrested or hassled as they do their jobs. The incident in Delaware is not isolated.
Across the country, the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker and the Committee to Protect Journalists are investigating at least 383 incidents of anti-press violence, the majority of which appear to have been perpetrated by law enforcement. These include arrest, assault, shooting at journalists with rubber bullets and tear gas, in many cases despite the fact that these journalists were clearly identified as such.
Local news reporters are members of our communities. They are there to get the story right and shine light on topics the public might not ordinarily see.
Police officers responding to protests and demonstrations must understand and respect the role of the media and treat journalists fairly. Too often, journalists are being targeted for doing their jobs.
During the coronavirus pandemic, journalists and news media have been recognized as essential businesses in Maryland, in Delaware and in many other states, and remain exempt from any curfews imposed by state authorities.
At a time when citizens across the country are facing the ongoing effects of a deadly pandemic, pressing economic concerns, systematic racism and widespread protests, the need for accurate and independent information and compelling images has never been more crucial.
Delaware Gov. John Carney (D) responded to Lamar’s story by tweeting: “Reporters have a fundamental right to cover the demonstrations we’re seeing in Delaware and across our country. They should not be arrested for doing their jobs. That’s not acceptable.”
Members of the MDDC Press Association welcome the governor’s support and stand ready to participate in conversations with law enforcement and civic leaders to ensure that officers are trained about the First Amendment rights of the press.
A free press is the bedrock of a healthy democracy. MDDC Press Association members uphold the First Amendment and call on law enforcement and public officials to protect all journalists and preserve the free flow of information now and in the future.