By Robert Lewis
WHAT THE BILL WOULD DO
SB 98 would prevent police from blocking journalists covering protests and demonstrations. The bill, by Healdsburg Democratic Sen. Mike McGuire, would ensure reporters can be in protest areas without being arrested and prohibits police from “intentionally assaulting, interfering with, or obstructing” their newsgathering.
WHO SUPPORTS IT
The California News Publishers Association, American Civil Liberties Union and First Amendment Coalition say the legislation is necessary after recent high-profile incidents in which reporters were arrested and, in some cases, assaulted with less-lethal munitions while covering demonstrations.
The California Police Chiefs Association wants to be able to control where the media goes during events and worries that costly litigation may result if their officers violate the proposed statutes.
WHY IT MATTERS
Police have cracked down — sometimes violently — on protests and demonstrations in recent years, including instances in which journalists covering events were arrested and injured. Such tactics limit the ability of news organizations to bear witness, an important function in a democracy, and to provide oversight of officers whose use of force and crowd-control tactics have led to civilian injuries and lawsuits.
GOVERNOR’S CALL: ✅
Newsom signed the bill on Oct. 9.