Journalism groups write Atlanta mayor to protest continued prosecution of arrested college journalists

The National Press Photographers Association and six other journalism organizations have written to Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed to protest the arrest and prosecution of two college journalists arrested last year while covering Occupy Atlanta demonstrations.

Judy Kim, a photojournalist with Georgia State University’s The Signal, and Alisen Redmond, a photojournalist with Kennesaw State University’s The Sentinel, were arrested last November and charged with “obstruction of traffic.” The pair were standing on a street closed to traffic when arrested and identified themselves as reporters.

“The arrest and 14 hour detention of college journalists is a tangible example of what is meant by a ‘chilling effect’ as it relates to First Amendment liberties,” wrote Mickey Osterreicher, NPPA’s general counsel. “We believe this case to be especially egregious because it appears that these photojournalists were specifically targeted by police because of their age and youthful appearance.”

At an August hearing in Atlanta Municipal Court, advisers for The Signal and The Sentinel testified that the two journalists were acting professionally in covering an event of importance to their college audience, according to a report in The Signal.

Kim and Redmond are scheduled to return to court Oct. 12 along with others arrested at the Occupy protests. If the charges against them are not dismissed, a trial date likely will be set then.

The letter to Reed was submitted on behalf of the NPPA, the American Society of News Editors, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, the Atlanta Press Club, CNN, the American Society of Media Photographers and the Student Press Law Center.