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Reporter On Trial For Covering BLM Riots

"Demilitarize the Police, Black Lives Matter" by Johnny Silvercloud is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

The trial of a journalist from Iowa, Andrea Sahouri, who was arrested and charged last summer while covering a Black Lives Matter protest, begins today.

Ms Sahouri’s trial, for charges arising from her arrest while covering a Black Lives Matter protest last year, commenced today. The case has been condemned by Amnesty International and a number of news organisations across the US as an infringement upon freedom of the press.

Andrea Sahouri is a public safety reporter for the Des Moines Register, who has been charged with “failure to disperse and interference with official acts, misdemeanors”. If found guilty, it is possible she could face a fine and 30 days in jail. She has pleaded not guilty.

Sahouri was arrested at the protest in Des Moines on 31 May, a week after the death of George Floyd, which led to a number of violent international protests against police brutality and for racial justice.

She claims to have identified herself as a member of the press, but police still arrested both her and her boyfriend. They were then taken to Polk county jail.

One of the Des Moines police officers involved, Luke Wilson, has said he believed Sahouri was a protester because she had no press credentials about her person. No footage was captured at the scene by police body-cam.

The judge for the case, Lawrence McLellan, has refused to drop the charges, but has ordered the police to give body camera training materials to Sahouri’s defense team.

Despite this, Amnesty International has continually urged the Polk county attorney to “immediately drop the spurious criminal charges against Des Moines Register journalist … who was arrested simply for doing her job as a reporter”.