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SPJ urges charges dropped against Ehrlich
Rebecca Aguilar, SPJ National President, 317-361-4134, email@example.com
Jennifer Royer, SPJ Director of Communications and Marketing, 317-361-4134, firstname.lastname@example.org
INDIANAPOLIS — The Society of Professional Journalists joins the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and 47 other organizations and individuals in a letter to Medford, Oregon, city officials condemning the prosecution of Jefferson Public Radio and SPJ member April Ehrlich.
Ehrlich, who is a board member of the SPJ Oregon chapter, was arrested in September 2020 as she covered the police clearing about 100 unhoused people out of a public park near downtown Medford.
SPJ is alarmed by the rise in journalists being arrested around the world. Sadly, it's expected from an oppressive government. But when it happens to an American journalist while covering matters of public importance in an all-American city like Medford, Oregon, the situation is quite disturbing.
“April Ehrlich was doing her job documenting law enforcement activity as police forcibly removed homeless people from the city's downtown park. Not only was she arrested for acting on her free press rights, but now the Medford city attorney's office wants to prosecute her,” said Rebecca Aguilar, SPJ National President. “SPJ urges the Acting City Attorney Eric Milton to drop the charges against Ms. Ehrlich.”
SPJ and its members stand unified with Ehrlich during this challenging time and condemn the actions of Medford city officials.
"The First Amendment comes under perilous threat when government, like the City of Medford, seeks to vanquish a free press through intimidation, " said Israel Balderas, Chair of the SPJ Legal Defense Fund.
SPJ also recommends the City of Medford takes measures to prevent what happened to Ehrlich from happening again to any journalist seeking the truth on the public’s behalf.
The SPJ Legal Defense Fund is a unique account that can be tapped for providing journalists with legal or direct financial assistance. The LDF Committee considers and approves funding, and also frequently joins letters and amicus briefs (or friend of the court briefs) with other journalism groups to support journalists and journalism outlets and organizations.
SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to informing citizens; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and fights to protect First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press. Support excellent journalism and fight for your right to know. Become a member, give to the Legal Defense Fund or give to the SPJ Foundation.