As protests continue all over the country, one very odd incident took place in Louisville. In this video you can see a Louisville police officer fire pepper balls directly at WAVE-TV reporter Kaitlin Rust. Both the NAB and SAG-AFTRA were quick to speak out. Here’s what they had to say.
Here’s what NAB CEO Gordon Smith had to say, “NAB condemns the actions of the Louisville police officer who fired pepper balls at a local TV crew legally covering downtown protests on Friday night. No police officer has the right to fire any type of ammunition at journalists who are simply doing their jobs and appropriately positioned to cover the news. NAB calls for a swift investigation of this incident to ensure that journalists have the necessary protections to report the news.”
“SAG-AFTRA condemns the reprehensible actions of this police officer who, without provocation or justification, fired upon journalists who were doing their jobs. The assault also had a traumatizing effect on viewers at home who watched the officer aim and fire repeatedly during the live broadcast.
“This was a brazen attack on two unarmed citizens. It is also an attack on our democracy and the people’s right to know how those on whom we confer power are using that power.
“Whether perpetrated by the public or by the state, acts of violence on journalists bringing news to the communities they serve are a betrayal of our nation’s founding principle that a free press is necessary for the maintenance of a free government.
“As citizens of this democratic nation, and as a labor union representing broadcast journalists and other media professionals, SAG-AFTRA unequivocally champions the First Amendment rights of journalists to gather information and report the truth. We stand with any journalist who finds his or her ability to report on our government challenged or compromised.”
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai praised reporters for their coverage. “I commend the extraordinary efforts of local broadcasters to keep Americans informed about the protests and violence taking place in our nation’s cities following the awful killing of George Floyd. Those who work for local television and radio stations are often putting themselves at personal risk to serve the public interest, and they must be allowed to do their jobs without being threatened or attacked. I hope that they and all Americans stay safe.”