Police arrested two reporters from the conservative news site The Daily Caller for unlawful assembly in Louisville on Wednesday, even though they identified themselves as press while covering the police brutality protests in the wake of the Breonna Taylor verdict.
Thousands of protestors took to the streets Wednesday night after a grand jury decided not to bring any charges against the officers who shot and killed Breonna Taylor during a botched drug raid in March, and Daily Caller reporters Shelby Talcott and Jorge Ventura were detained as they were reporting on the demonstrations.
“We are all on the ground right now and police are taking people and putting them in zip tie cuffs,” Talcott tweeted as she was being detained. She can be heard saying, “Sir, we’re press,” to a nearby officer.
Daily Caller Editor-in-Chief Geoffrey Ingersoll notified the Louisville Metropolitan Police Department that Talcott and Ventura were reporters, but says police told him they would be charged nonetheless with two misdemeanors related to breaking curfew and unlawful assembly for allegedly failing to disperse and move to a press “observation area,” according to a Wednesday tweet from Ingersoll.
Daily Caller staff have also said that the two reporters have been held overnight, and that police haven’t allowed them to speak with a lawyer. The LMPD did not respond to a request for comment.
“Those reporters flat out have a constitutionally protected role to play on our streets,” said Daily Caller publisher Neil Patel in a tweet Thursday. “The Louisville Police Department is going to find out all about this in the form of a lawsuit unless things start changing fast.”
Journalist arrests have soared this year, with many arrested while covering Black Lives Matter protests . At least 63 were detained this year, according to the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker, and more have been attacked, alarming civil society advocates.
Protests raged and two police officers were shot following the announcement that the two officers who shot Taylor in March faced no charges, and a third on the scene during the raid faced lower-level charges of wanton endangerment for firing bullets into a nearby apartment as part of the search. Taylor’s family called the decision a “sham proceeding."