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Indybay Journalists Charged with Felony: Conspiracy to Make Media
by Indybay Collective ( sfbay-web [at] lists.indymedia.org )
Tuesday Mar 20th, 2012 10:19 AM
For Immediate Release

March 20, 2012

Contact:Ben Rice
Attorney for Bradley Stuart Allen
office: (831) 425-0555
cell: (831) 247-1105
benricelaw@gmail.com

Indybay Editorial Collective
(415) 633-6349
sfbay-web@lists.indymedia.org

indybay.jpg
indybay.jpg


Indybay Journalists Charged with Felony: Conspiracy to Make Media

Viewpoint Discrimination and Selective Prosecution at Work in Charges Against Independent Journalists

SANTA CRUZ, CA — District Attorney Bob Lee has embarked on a full frontal assault against independent media in Santa Cruz by including four regular contributors to the independent news website Indybay.org amongst the eleven people charged with multiple felonies and misdemeanors after the occupation of a vacant bank building on November 30th, 2011. District Attorney Lee apparently believes it is his duty to dictate how events such as the occupation of the vacant bank at 75 River Street should be reported on by the media, and if he does not approve of the coverage, then journalists risk the DA bringing charges against them.

Bradley Stuart Allen and Alex Darocy are Indybay photojournalists and Indybay editors who were reporting on the occupation. No charges nor arrests were made at the time, but warrants were issued over two months later on February 8th, 2012 — for Bradley, Alex, and nine other individuals. Alex was arrested at his home before he could submit to the surprise warrant. Bradley and Alex were originally charged with felony vandalism, felony conspiracy, and two counts of misdemeanor trespass, but after a three-day preliminary hearing starting March 13th the felony vandalism charge against both was dropped. Alex and Bradley remain out of police custody on their own recognizance.

Selective Prosecution

On the face of it, the misdemeanor trespass charges filed against both Alex and Bradley for documenting the occupation from inside of the building seem in line with a February 8th press release from the DA which declared that the "District Attorney's Office remains committed to enforcing the law." But the DA fails to mention that his office is not committed to enforcing the law consistently and that the charges against Alex and Bradley are clearly a case of selective prosecution. District Attorney Lee knows full well that a staff photographer for the Santa Cruz Sentinel newspaper likewise shot photographs from inside of the occupied bank building, yet Lee has chosen not to file any charges against him. Why would a District Attorney pursue such a selective prosecution?

Viewpoint Discrimination

Upon reading court filings and hearing statements made by the District Attorney during the preliminary hearing for Bradley and Alex, it is apparent that District Attorney Lee believes he is entitled to dictate the terms of media coverage in Santa Cruz County. In a brief filed prior to the preliminary hearing, DAs Lee and Rebekah Young wrote this about Alex's and Bradley's coverage of the occupation: "Their postings contain no interviews (or even attempted interviews) with representatives from the police, with the property owners, or with members of the community who might not have been in favor of the group's conduct." This is clearly viewpoint discrimination on the part of the District Attorney. According to Bob Lee's logic, if journalists do not interview police for a story, then somehow those journalists' rights and privileges as members of the media no longer matter.

Conspiracy to Make Media

As for the most serious remaining charge, felony conspiracy, District Attorney Lee has offered absolutely no supporting evidence of a criminal collusion. The DA has not argued that Alex and Bradley had prior knowledge that the building would be occupied. The DA simply asserts that the mere act of newsgathering at an announced demonstration, which turned into an unannounced building occupation, constitutes felony conspiracy to promote trespass and vandalism. In the same preliminary hearing supplemental brief referenced above, the DA wrote: "The defendants' presence and postings... aided and abetted the organization's occupation of the property." From this, District Attorney Lee takes another leap by claiming that Bradley and Alex "effectively serv[ed] as the media arm of the organization; the group's propagandists." The "conspiracy" is nothing more than reporting on a newsworthy event.

Ben Rice, who is representing Bradley, states, "As the control of 'news' is increasingly controlled by the '1 percent' we have to stop the government from deciding who or what sources may lawfully provide alternate sides to important stories. At Bradley's preliminary hearing, we presented evidence from expert witnesses that Indymedia and Bradley are legitimate news sources. We provided evidence that Bradley has been using his skill as a photojournalist for ten years to examine many of our world's most perplexing social problems. Bradley's focus on those issues is particularly important because so many of them are ignored by mainstream media. The judge's determination to keep the conspiracy charge alive should give all journalists pause."

Free Alex and Bradley! Independent Media Is Not a Crime!

The National Press Photographers Association (NPAA) and The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press (RCFP) wrote a Letter Brief addressed to the court seeking dismissal of charges. In a related joint press release, the NPAA and RCFP wrote: "This is just the most recent case where journalists have been interfered with and arrested while covering Occupy Wall Street protests throughout the country. In almost every case, those charges — ranging from disorderly conduct and obstruction of governmental administration to trespass — have been dismissed or the defendant journalists have been acquitted." So why is Bob Lee pursuing these charges, at taxpayer expense, unless to unfairly promote one journalistic viewpoint over another by deterring independent journalists from closely reporting on social justice movements as they happen.

Stop the harassment and intimidation of independent journalists! Drop the charges against Bradley Stuart Allen and Alex Darocy now!


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About the Santa Cruz and SF Bay Area Independent Media Centers

Santa Cruz Indymedia has been the Independent Media Center (IMC) for the Monterey Bay Area since 2001. In 2006, Santa Cruz IMC became regionally integrated with Indybay.org, the website of the San Francisco Bay Area IMC, itself online since 2000. Together these Northern California IMCs are a non-commercial, democratic collective of independent media makers and media outlets serving as the local organizing unit of the global Indymedia network.


For more information and further updates about the case, see:

www.indybay.org/mediaconspiracy


###

§Bradley Stuart Allen and Alex Darocy
by Indybay Collective Tuesday Mar 20th, 2012 10:19 AM
bradley-and-alex_640x424.jpg
bradley-and-alex_640x424....


Comments  (Hide Comments)

by Keep it Real
Wednesday Mar 21st, 2012 8:42 AM
You address a friendly audience here, so impassioned defense of your viewpoint may be all that's required. But on the docket, you're not going to have the same home-field advantage, so keep it real and keep it defensible. Case in point, this statement:

"Their postings contain no interviews (or even attempted interviews) with representatives from the police, with the property owners, or with members of the community who might not have been in favor of the group's conduct." This is clearly viewpoint discrimination on the part of the District Attorney. According to Bob Lee's logic, if journalists do not interview police for a story, then somehow those journalists' rights and privileges as members of the media no longer matter."

That isn't what the D.A. said, or his logic. You dropped out the attendant mention of "property owners, or members of the community not in favor". You've slanted the report to suite your purpose by narrowing the perspective down to just "interview the police or it's not a story". When taken in total, the statement is far different than the one you're presenting.

Keep it real if you want to win it; parsing the issues isn't going to be a good tactic.
by riptorn
Friday Mar 23rd, 2012 2:09 PM
I'm shocked that this report only features the two "journalists" that work for Indybay..
What about the other 9 defendants??

You do a diservice to your claim that you were in the role of "journalist" covering the story "from the inside"
and yet all I see here is you desperately trying to cover your own asses.

What of the Santa Cruz 11? Where is reportage of the other 9??

Anything at all other than this feeble story of you 2 persecuted photographers who've been covering things "from the inside"
for years. When things get hot then you seem to jump ship and send those you claim to be covering off to certain doom.

Where is the integrity?? You've lost your journalistic integrity but where is the solidarity with those who've you've stood side-by-side with,
who've been doing the hard work of activism?

It is a shock to see you sell all down the river to save yourselves and to do it on the very platform you've facilitated for so long.

I've been hearing that you're disappearing comments and articles that could shed light on the plight of the other defendants.
When the question is asked "who would do such a thing?".. It becomes clear. You are sacrificing your community to save yourselves.

You're community won't forget this in the future.

by For more information about the case...
Friday Mar 23rd, 2012 2:30 PM
SANTA CRUZ, CA — District Attorney Bob Lee has embarked on a full frontal assault against independent media in Santa Cruz by including four regular contributors to the independent news website Indybay.org amongst the eleven people charged with multiple felonies and misdemeanors....

For more information and further updates about the case, see:

http://www.indybay.org/mediaconspiracy
by make media
Tuesday Mar 27th, 2012 9:38 AM
Indybay is an open publishing website. That means YOU are the media. If you have information on any of the arrestees' cases -- and their consent to share it -- post it here. Share interviews with arrestees, press releases from attorneys, announcements about scheduled court dates, updates on hearings, whatever. Don't just sit there and complain while you wait for others to do it for you. Do it yourself. Santa Cruz is a small town so it's not that hard to talk to people and figure this out. Get out there and get the info you want. Publish it here for the benefit of others. Make Media!
by Sherry Conable
Wednesday Mar 28th, 2012 9:20 AM
Bob Lee
District Attorney
County of Santa Cruz, CA


Dear Sir:

It is very disturbing to me that you are choosing to prosecute Bradley Stuart Allen in relation to the occupation of the vacant bank building at 75 River Street in November of 2011.

I am a well known and very active political organizer in Santa Cruz and I have known Bradley for 9 years now. During that time, as a member of the Press Corps, he has covered over 20 events and actions that I have organized in both public and private spaces, and in both indoor and outdoor settings. He has covered them for IndyBay News alongside reporters from the SC Sentinel, the SJ Mercury News, the SF Chronicle, CNN, KSBW, KION, KPFA, KZSC, KSCO, KWAV, and other TV, radio, and print news outlets.

Because of the outstanding quality of this work, I always send a personal request to him as a member of the press to please cover any event that I am responsible for, as well as having him in my standing data base both for my Press Release FYI list and my Public Service Announcement FYI list.

Bradley is an exceptionally fine photo journalist. He takes absolutely stellar photographs, and his prose copy is very insightful, responsible, and thoughtful, and does a great job of connecting the dots for the reader. I particularly look for his stories on events that I am interested in because I know how excellent the quality will be!

Freedom of the press is protected by the Constitution of the United States. It is one of the most fundamental cornerstones of a healthy, functioning democracy.

In entering the already occupied bank building, Bradley was exercising that constitutional right in a way that benefits the whole community. There is no evidence whatsoever that he had any other role in what went on at that site than as a photojournalist and press corps member for a well recognized online, independent news source.

Please stop your costly and illegal prosecution of him! Dismiss the charges!!

This is a shameful waste of taxpayers money, a black eye to the Constitution of the United States, and a terrible thing to put him through. He is a sincere, caring, and very talented young man who is serving the best interests of his/our community in a fine and lasting way by doing his work as an independent news journalist.

Sincerely
Sherry Conable
Santa Cruz, CA
March 27, 2012
by John Colby
Wednesday Mar 28th, 2012 4:59 PM
Santa Cruz DA Bob Lee and the SCPD really overreached on this case. DA Bob Lee is going to get national press attention for persecuting journalists. He will be nationally known for stomping on the freedom of the press.

This just shows how corrupt our local law enforcement officials are. But now they are taking on nationally known heavy hitters like the Society for Professional Journalists and potentially the ACLU.

Bob Lee's legacy will be one of an overzealous prosecutor who vilified journalists for a personal vendetta. I expect that he will be retiring soon after this case reaches an appellate court and he gets stomped on by appellate judges and the national news media.

This case is going to be a national embarrassment for the SCPD and the DA Bob Lee. Expect serious repercussions.
by Amicus Curia
Friday Apr 20th, 2012 4:21 PM
I'm a citizen investigatory photojournalist with my own company, Soul Snatcher, Productions (tm). I get static (or worse) all the time from every quarter for attempting to cover stories and events such as what you describe. The press has no more 'rights' than anyone else. But it also has no less! j
Check out the following for the ACLU's take on the issue:
http://amicuscuria.com/wordpress/?p=5108