Twitter Facebook Google Plus Pinterest Storify
Society of Professional Journalists
Improving and protecting journalism since 1909

Advertise with SPJ

SPJ Leads

News and More
Click to Expand Instantly

SPJ News
Events and Deadlines
SPJ Blogs
Quill Online
Journalist's Toolbox

Stay in Touch
Twitter Storify Facebook Google Plus
RSS Pinterest Pinterest Flickr

More SPJ News
Press Notes
SPJ Blogs
SPJ Leads
The EIJ News
Press Notes
SPJ News
Open Doors
Geneva Conventions
Annual FOI Reports

Home > SPJ News > Charges dropped against photojournalist arrested while covering Occupy Wall Street

SPJ News
Latest SPJ News | RSS

Charges dropped against photojournalist arrested while covering Occupy Wall Street



For immediate release

John Ensslin, SPJ President, 973-513-5632,
Abby Henkel, SPJ Communications Manager, 317-927-8000 ext. 215,

INDIANAPOLIS – Charges against a New York City photojournalist arrested while covering the Occupy Wall Street protests have been dismissed.

The charges against Douglas Higginbotham, a freelancer working for Television New Zealand, were dropped Feb. 17 "in the interests of justice.” Mickey H. Osterreicher, general counsel for the National Press Photographers Association, filed a motion to dismiss the case.

NPPA and the Society of Professional Journalists came to Higginbotham's defense following his arrest during a demonstration that broke out after police had dispersed protestors from Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan. SPJ provided a $1,000 grant to his attorney from its Legal Defense Fund, and SPJ’s New York City chapter, the Deadline Club, advocated for Higginbotham’s rights.

Higginbotham was arrested after he stood on top of a phone booth to get a better vantage point of the protest. When police ordered him down, Higginbotham tried to comply. Before he could so, officers pulled him off his perch and arrested him on a disorderly conduct charge.

"Being a freelancer working in New York for a TV station in New Zealand, I was very concerned and upset after my arrest," Higginbotham said in an interview.

Ironically, while covering a celebration of the death of Osama bin Laden last year, police officers and firefighters helped Higginbotham onto another nearby phone booth.

SPJ President John Ensslin said he was not surprised that the charges against Higginbotham were dropped.

"I felt Doug had a strong case, and I knew that he had a good lawyer," Ensslin said. "We’re glad Doug can go back to work without the threat of prosecution hanging over his head."

NPPA President Sean Elliot said, “I am pleased to see the correct outcome in this case, but unfortunately the fact that Mr. Higginbotham was arrested in the first place represents just another example of a disturbing trend in police-press relations.”

“I would hope that the NPPA, SPJ and other organizations representing journalists can continue to make headway in educating police officials on how to better work with the media and avoid such incidents as this in the future,” he added.

A video of Higginbotham's arrest is available here.

SPJ issued a strong protest in November against the arrests of journalists in several U.S. cities who were swept into police custody while doing their job of covering the news.

Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to a well-informed citizenry; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and protects First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press. For more information about SPJ, please visit


Copyright © 1996-2015 Society of Professional Journalists. All Rights Reserved. Legal

Society of Professional Journalists
Eugene S. Pulliam National Journalism Center
3909 N. Meridian St.
Indianapolis, IN 46208
317/927-8000 | Fax: 317/920-4789

Contact SPJ Headquarters
Employment Opportunities
Advertise with SPJ