A court decided Tuesday to drop the charges against two Daily Caller reporters who were arrested while covering a protest in Louisville, Kentucky last month.
Reporters Shelby Talcott and Jorge Ventura were reporting on an unlawful assembly that had been declared in Louisville when police surrounded a group of people and ordered everyone to get on the ground. Videos from the night of the arrest show officers putting people in 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 reporters were arrested and taken to jail, despite being positively identified as members of the press, who are exempt from the citywide curfew. Ventura was held for over 12 hours and Talcott was held for 16 hours before being released. (RELATED: Police Used A Legally Dubious Tactic In Louisville, And I Found Myself Caught In The Middle Of It. Here’s What Happened …)
Talcott was charged with failure to disperse and unlawful assembly, and Ventura was charged with local county ordinance and failure to disperse. Both plead not guilty, and the charges were officially dismissed Tuesday.
Jeremy Rogers, Talcott’s attorney, told the Daily Caller that the charges were typical for a protester but unusual for a news reporter.
“There is no question Ms. Talcott was present as a journalist reporting on the protest and the police,” Rogers said. “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.”
“Louisville police said that reporters would be allowed to cover protests on the ground even after curfew,” Daily Caller Co-Founder and Publisher Neil Patel said in a statement. “They then arrested our reporters for covering the protests and kept them in custody even after they knew for sure that they were news reporters.”
“It then took weeks for the Louisville prosecutors to finally drop charges, which they have now done,” Patel continued. None of this should have ever happened, and our reporters are consulting with lawyers on next steps. We would like to thank the Committee to Protect Journalists and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press for their amazing help getting us through this trying ordeal.”