Back in July 2005, videographer Josh Wolf shot this compelling video of an anti-war protest, where he raised a provocative question: did the SFPD apply too much force against the protestors in response to an unrelated assault on a police officer? As it turns out, the case later made its way to federal court (because the SFPD receives federal funds), Wolf was asked to reveal the raw footage and refused, under his First and Fourth Amendment rights, as well as the California Shield Law, and is now being charged with contempt of court for refusing to hand over the tapes.
Judge William Alsup has stated, “Every person, from the president of the United States down to you and me, has to give information to the grand jury if the grand jury wants it.”
Well, that’s all fine and dandy, but consider what this means for journalism at large. What does this mean for establishing and maintaining confidential sources? What does this mean for pursuing a story?
If you’d like to donate to Wolf’s legal defense fund, the link is here. I’ve donated. Will you?
(via the SFist)
[UPDATE: Josh Wolf’s mother is now reporting that Wolf lost on all of the motions and is jail. Efforts are being made to appeal.]
© 2006, Edward Champion. All rights reserved.