Reporter Dodges Jail Time After Being Arrested While Covering BLM Protest

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Michael Ginsberg Congressional Reporter
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A jury acquitted an Iowa reporter of charges she received after she was arrested while covering a Black Lives Matter protest in May 2020.

Andrea Sahouri, a reporter for the Des Moines Register, was charged with failure to disperse and interference with official acts, both misdemeanors.

Sahouri was pepper-sprayed and arrested even after identifying herself as a reporter, according to the Des Moines Register. Her then-boyfriend Spenser Robnett, who was on the scene to help Sahouri report, was also arrested and charged. Robnett was also acquitted.

The six-person jury took less than two hours to return “not guilty” verdicts for Sahour and Robnett, according to USA Today.

Police deployed tear gas on protestors and rioters the night Sahouri was arrested after the protest devolved into a riot, according to the Des Moines Register. Rioters broke windows, looted a shoe store and forcibly stopped a police car in the street. (RELATED: Leader Of Iowa City Protest Group Arrested And Held Without Bail)

Press freedom advocates expressed relief over the acquittal. Freedom of the Press Executive Director Trevor Timm called the trial “a disgraceful use of prosecutorial resources.”

“We are very grateful that justice was done today, and that Andrea was fully exonerated. But it should never have come to this,” Maribel Perez, the head of the news division at Gannett, told the Washington Post. Gannett Co., Inc. owns the Des Moines Register.

128 reporters were arrested in the United States in 2020 while on the job, according to the US Press Freedom Tracker. Daily Caller reporters Shelby Talcott and Jorge Ventura were arrested in September 2020 while covering riots in Louisville, Kentucky. The charges against them were dropped.