SPLC, Holland & Knight offer journalist helpline for students arrested covering "Occupy"

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEContact: Frank D. LoMonte, executive director703.807.1904 / director@splc.org

The Student Press Law Center and the leading media-law firmHolland & Knight LLP are offering student journalists free legal assistancearound-the-clock if they are jailed while covering “Occupy” demonstrations.

At least four college journalists have been arrested at thescene of “Occupy” demonstrations while trying to cover news: two in Atlanta,one in Nashville and one in Rochester, N.Y. In Atlanta, college journalistsfrom Georgia State University and Kennesaw State University spent a night injail after being caught up in a roundup as Atlanta Police Department officersattempted to clear a downtown street.

Student journalists with an emergency at the scene of an“Occupy” protest should call the Center’s hotline – 703-807-1904, extension 121 – anytime. SPLC attorneys will referemergency calls to Holland & Knight volunteer attorneys who are on-call inWashington, D.C., Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, Miami, Orlando, Tampa andJacksonville. The volunteers will work to help students who are incarceratedwhile covering the news.

“In the chaos of a demonstration, there are so oftenmisunderstandings and miscommunications between journalists and police that we feelit’s important to let students know they aren’t alone,” said attorney Frank D.LoMonte, executive director of the Student Press Law Center. “’Occupy’ is anational story of special importance to young people, and young journalists arebeing heavily relied on to bring the news to the public, sometimes puttingthemselves in harm’s way. We hope no one ever has to use this service, but wethink it will be reassuring for students to know it’s there.”

“Holland and Knight is one of the premiere law firms in theworld, and students are extremely fortunate to have legal assistance of thehighest caliber at their disposal, free of charge, to make sure that theirrights are protected,” LoMonte said. He emphasized that the hotline is meant toserve those gathering and reporting news, and is not a legal service for thoseparticipating in demonstrations.

Holland & Knight is a global law firm with 1,000 lawyerscovering 150 practice areas in 20 offices around the world. The firm isnationally known as a leader in media and First Amendment law, a practice ledby Washington, D.C., partner Charles D. Tobin, who is chairman of the AmericanBar Association’s Forum on Communications Law. The firm is widely recognizedfor its commitment to community and pro-bonoservice.

“We are pleased tohelp the SPLC further the ability of student journalists to exercise theirFirst Amendment rights to gather the news,” Tobin said.

The SPLC thanks the following Holland & Knight lawyerswho have agreed to stand ready to help jailed student journalists in theirregions: Elizabeth Bevington, David Borucke, Tim Conner, Shelley Hurwitz,Adolfo Jimenez, Gordon Katz, Robert Labate, Judy Mercier and Drew Shenkman.

Along withannouncing the legal helpline, the SPLC is distributing a “tip sheet” forjournalists covering “Occupy” protests or similar demonstrations, to helpminimize their risk of conflict with police. The tip sheet is available here.

Since 1974, the StudentPress Law Center has served as the nation’s only nonprofit legal assistanceservice dedicated to the needs of student journalists and the educators whowork with them. More information about the work of the Student Press Law Centeris available on its website at www.splc.org.