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Reporter Arrested for Recording Public Meeting
by David Gurney
Thursday Feb 2nd, 2012 4:03 PM
In my own case, there were NO requirements for press credentials, and the public policy meeting was NOT being recorded. The corrupt private contractors claimed the authority to break the law, and establish their own rules recarding coverage of their public meetings. They later changed their illegal "rules," after universal public outrage over the arrest.
see: http://noyonews.net

Reporter Arrested for Recording Public Meeting

by David Gurney

In an incident strangely reminiscent of my own unlawful arrest for filming at a public meeting of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative, Josh Fox, producer of the award winning documentary Gasland was arrested yesterday - for filming a public meeting.

Fox was at the Energy and Environment Subcommittee meeting on "EPA Hydraulic Fracturing Research" in Washington DC. He was there to document the connection between hydraulic "fracking" and contamination of local groundwater in Pavillion, Wyoming.

The Chairman of the subcommittee, Republican Andy Harris (R-Md.), objected to Mr. Fox's presence with a camera, even though Josh was bothering or disturbing no one. There was more than enough room in the hall for him to unobtrusively do his work as a journalist.

But the committee chairman pushed the point, insisting that Mr. Fox needed credentials and prior permission to record the meeting, and that the public meeting was alredy being officially videotaped.

Mr. Fox asserted that his 1st Amendment rights were sufficient to allow him to cover and record the public meeting.

In my own case, there were NO requirements for press credentials, and the public policy meeting was NOT being recorded. The corrupt private contractors claimed the authority to break the law, and establish their own rules recarding coverage of their public meetings. They later changed their illegal "rules," after universal public outrage over the arrest.

We are suing the MLPA "Initiative" and their private contractors on six causes of action:

• Abridgement of rights of free speech and free press guarenteed by Article 1, Section 2 of the California Constitution

• False Imprisonment

• Violation of the Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act, by preventing the legal and unobtrusive recording a public meeting, and for failing to provide the legally required public comment period during the course of a two-day public meeting.

• Coercive and intimidating actions, in violation of the Tom Bane Civil Rights Act.

• Common Law Negligence, for MLPAI defendants breaching their duty to exercise reaonable care to uphold the civil rights of a citizen and a journalist.

• Declaratory relief, seeking a declaration of free speech and Bagley Keene Act rights with respect to MLPA "Initiative" meetings

Outrage over the Josh Fox arrest was expressed by these spokespersons:

Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) told Huffington Post, “I have served in the House of Representatives since 1992, and I had the privilege of chairing the Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties. In all that time, I cannot recall a chair of any committee or subcommittee having ever ordered the removal of a person who was filming a committee proceeding and not being disruptive, whether or not that person was accredited. It is a matter of routine that all sorts of people photograph and record our proceedings. Most of them are not accredited. I cannot recall anyone questioning their right to be there."

Arthur Spitzer, legal director of the ACLU in Washington, explained that "congressional committees routinely allow professional journalists to record hearings even when they don't have official press credentials, and excluding a journalist because he doesn't share the political views of the committee chair is outrageous. The Supreme Court has explained many times that censorship based on viewpoint is the clearest kind of First Amendment violation, and that seems to be what happened here."

More on Josh Fox's arrest can be read HERE: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/01/house-republicans-order-j_n_1246971.html

This was the lead story in today's nationwide broadcast of Democracy Now!

Go get 'em, Josh! We wish you luck if you decide to seek justice through litigation.

MLPA Initiative Facts:

The initiative is a privately funded process, overseen by a big oil lobbyist, marina developer, coastal real estate executive, agribusiness hack and other corporate operatives with many conflicts of interest, that creates a network of so-called "marine protected areas" on the California coast.

The MLPA Initiative, supported by Safeway Stores, Walmart and the Western States Petroleum Association, implements "marine protected areas" that fail to protect the ocean from oil spills and drilling, pollution, military testing, corporate aquaculture, wave and wind energy projects and all other human impacts on the ocean than fishing and gathering.

In one of the most overt conflicts of interest in California history, Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the president of the Western States Petroleum Association, chaired the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force for the South Coast that designed the "marine protected areas" that went into effect in Southern California waters on January 1. Reheis-Boyd, a big oil industry lobbyist advocating for new offshore drilling off the California coast, the Keystone XL pipeline and the gutting of environmental laws, also "served" on the North Central Coast and North Coast Task Forces.

The Packard Foundation and four other "non-profits" donated a total of $20 million to fund the MLPA Initiative. The Resources Legacy Fund Foundation received the funds from these foundations to implement the unpopular MLPA process.