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Title Indybay Journalists Charged with Felony
 
Subtitle <a href="http://www.indybay.org">NORTHERN CALIFORNIA</a>, <a href="http://indymedia.us/">US</a>: "CONSPIRACY TO MAKE MEDIA"
 
Description <em>Viewpoint Discrimination and Selective Prosecution at Work in
Charges Against Independent Journalists</em><br><br>

Santa Cruz County 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. <strong><a
href="http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2012/03/20/18709755.php">Read
More</a> | <a href="http://indymedia.us/en/2012/03/49211.shtml">Full
Press Release from Indybay</a> | <a
href="http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2012/03/21/18709847.php">En
Español</a></strong><br><br>

<em>Pictured: Bradley Stuart Allen and Alex Darocy are Indybay
photojournalists and Indybay editors who were reporting on the
occupation.</em><br><br>

<b>More Coverage:</b>
<a href="http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2012/03/18/18709596.php">KPFA
Evening News Speaks with Bradley Stuart Allen</a>
|
<a href="http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2012/03/15/18709347.php">Day
Three of "Conspiracy" Frame-Up Hearing</a>
|
<a href="http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2012/03/13/18709230.php">Bogus
Attack on Journalists Around November Protest Goes On and On</a>
|
<a
href="http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2012/03/12/18709197.php">Preliminary
"Conspiracy" Hearing for Two Reporters in the 75 River St. Persecutions</a>
|
<a href="http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2012/03/12/18709182.php">NPPA
&amp; Reporters Committee Seek Dismissal of Charges Against
Photojournalist Covering Occupy Protest</a>
 
Article Text <strong>For Immediate Release</strong>
<br><br><strong>March 20, 2012</strong>
<br><br><table><tbody><tr><td
valign="top"><strong>Contact:</strong></td><td>Ben Rice<br>
Attorney for Bradley Stuart Allen<br>
office: (831) 425-0555<br>
cell: (831) 247-1105<br><a
href="mailto:benricelaw@gmail.com">benricelaw@gmail.com</a>
<br><br>
Indybay Editorial Collective<br>
(415) 633-6349<br><a
href="mailto:sfbay-web@lists.indymedia.org">sfbay-web@lists.indymedia.org</a>
</td></tr></tbody></table><br>

<br><h1>Indybay Journalists Charged with Felony: Conspiracy to Make
Media</h1>

<h3>Viewpoint Discrimination and Selective Prosecution at Work in
Charges Against Independent Journalists</h3>

<strong>SANTA CRUZ, CA — </strong>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.
<br><br>
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.

<h3>Selective Prosecution</h3>

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 <a
href="http://datinternet.co.santa-cruz.ca.us/index.php/press-releases">press
release</a> 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 <em>Santa Cruz Sentinel</em> newspaper
likewise shot <a
href="http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/portlet/article/html/render_gallery.jsp?articleId=19442674&amp;siteId=6&amp;startImage=4">photographs
from inside</a> 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?

<h3>Viewpoint Discrimination</h3>

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.

<h3>Conspiracy to Make Media</h3>

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.
<br><br>
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."

<h3>Free Alex and Bradley! Independent Media Is Not a Crime!</h3>

The National Press Photographers Association (NPAA) and The Reporters
Committee for Freedom of the Press (RCFP) wrote a <a
href="http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2012/03/12/18709182.php">Letter
Brief</a> 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.
<br><br>
Stop the harassment and intimidation of independent journalists! Drop
the charges against Bradley Stuart Allen and Alex Darocy now!
<br><br><br>
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

<br><br><br>

About the Santa Cruz and SF Bay Area Independent Media Centers<br><br>

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.
<br><br><br>
For more information and further updates about the case, see:
<br><br><a
href="http://www.indybay.org/mediaconspiracy">www.indybay.org/mediaconspiracy</a>
<br><br><br>
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<strong>Source articles:</strong><br>
http://indymedia.us/en/2012/03/49211.shtml<br>
http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2012/03/20/18709755.php
 
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