WASHINGTON, D.C. —District of Columbia prosecutors today dropped the charges against a George Mason University student journalist who was arrested while covering the International Monetary Fund and World Bank protests late last month.
Jason Hornick, a staff photographer for GMU’s student newspaper, Broadside, had been charged with “failure to obey an officer” after being swept up in a mass arrest of protestors, bystanders and journalists at downtown’s Pershing Park early morning of Sept. 27. He was detained on a city bus for 16 hours before police officially charged him.
Unlike most of the 654 arrested protesters, bystanders and journalists who opted to pay a $50 post and forfeit fee, Hornick pled not guilty risking a longer detainment. He was held an additional four hours at the Metropolitan Police Academy with his hand handcuffed to his leg.
“I believed the police were in the wrong by arresting me, and I felt it would come out in court,” he said. Hornick was represented for free by attorney Stuart Evans of the D.C. law firm Covington & Burling.
D.C. police have taken heat in the media for the manner in which officers arrested and detained the IMF protesters and bystanders. A lawsuit was filed earlier this week on behalf of seven George Washington University student journalists and observers who are claiming police violated their constitutional rights.
Hornick said what happened at the IMF protests was a good lesson for student journalists and police relations.
“Police should be aware journalists are just doing their job, and journalists need to be aware police need identification,” he said.
Hornick, unlike most student and professional journalists present at the IMF protests, did not have any press credentials. Several journalists were still detained after showing police proper credentials, including at least six college reporters and photographers. Hornick said he now carries his press credentials with him every day.