Journalist’s arrest at Occupy Richmond

Ian Graham, a photojournalist with RVA Magazine, was arrested and charged with trespassing in the early morning hours of Nov. 1, as he attempted to gather news at the Occupy Richmond site at Kanawha Plaza in downtown Richmond.

His account of the evening, which he acknowledged had to be curtailed since he was facing charges, is available here.

The board of the Virginia Pro chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists on Nov. 8 sent a letter of protest to Richmond Mayor Dwight C. Jones, Police Chief Bryan Norwood and Commonwealth’s Attorney Michael Herring, asking that the charges against Graham be dropped. (Click the following link for a copy of SPJ Virginia Pro letter re journalist’s arrest)

Virginia Code § 15.2-1714 expressly provides journalists the right to be present at police scenes “when gathering news,” and Graham was seeking to cover the removal of the Occupy Richmond protesters for RVA Magazine at the time he was arrested.

Graham was charged with a class 1 misdemeanor, trespassing after being forbidden to do so.

None of the three officials responded to the board’s letter.

A hearing was held in Richmond General District Court on Friday, Nov. 18, but the charge against Graham was continued until January.

Studio SPJ held a session on Nov. 20 entitled, “Covering the Occupy Protests.” The podcast, which featured guests Mickey Osterreicher, counsel to the Press Photographers Association and SPJ Virginia Pro president Paul Fletcher, is archived and available for listening at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/spj.

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