Daily Caller reporter Shelby Talcott pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges of failure to disperse and unlawful assembly after being arrested at a protest September 23.
“We entered a not guilty plea for Ms. Talcott to all charges in court today,” Talcott’s lawyer, Jeremy Rogers, told the Daily Caller. “There is no question Ms. Talcott was present as a journalist reporting on the protest and the police. This is core First Amendment-protected activity, and reporters were also told that they were free to cover the protests without fear of being arrested.”
The charges Talcott is facing are similar to the ones that many of the protesters are facing. Rogers said that they are typical charges for a protester, but “certainly not for news reporters.”
Talcott and Daily Caller reporter Jorge Ventura were both arrested in Louisville while they were reporting on an unlawful assembly that had been declared in the area. Police used a tactic called a “kettle” to surround a group of people who were a mix of press and protesters, making it impossible for the group to leave the area. (RELATED: Police Used A Legally Dubious Tactic In Louisville, And I Found Myself Caught In The Middle Of It. Here’s What Happened …)
A video showed police forcing the group of people to get on to the ground and detaining several people using zip-tie handcuffs.
We are all on the ground right now and police are taking people and putting them in zip tie cuffs pic.twitter.com/eIJJF1t1Ub
— Shelby Talcott (@ShelbyTalcott) September 24, 2020
Both Ventura and Talcott were arrested and put in jail with the rest of the group, despite being positively identified as legitimate members of the press – who are exempt from the citywide curfew – multiple times. Ventura was held in jail for over 12 hours, Talcott was held for 16 hours, and both are still facing charges.
For those asking, I’ve been charged with failure to disperse and unlawful assembly.@VenturaReport is charged with local county ordinance and failure to disperse.
— Shelby Talcott (@ShelbyTalcott) September 25, 2020
“The Louisville police arrested two of our employees Wednesday night,” Daily Caller co-founder and publisher Neil Patel said in a September 23 statement. “We have informed the police that these are reporters who were peacefully doing their job, but they are still refusing to release them.”
“They will not even let us speak with them. Given the fact that our reporters have been repeatedly harassed, punched and even shot at during past protests, we fear for their safety in lockup with people who may want to do them harm,” Patel continued. “No other news outlet has been on the ground at more protests and riots and none have done a more balanced job of telling the public what is happening.” (RELATED: Two Louisville Police Officers Shot During Riot, Police Say)
“We appreciate the difficult situation that officers are in trying to balance their own safety while allowing protestors to exercise their first amendment rights,” he added. “Unlike other outlets, we have interviewed police about this and told their side of the story. But this is not China. Those reporters flat out have a constitutionally protected role to play on our streets.”
“The Louisville Police Department is going to find out all about this in the form of a lawsuit unless things start changing fast,” Patel said.