SJ Mayor Calls Detention of Reporters ‘Very Troubling’

Police throughout the country bombarded journalists with rubber bullets and tear gas and arrested and detained them as they covered the George Floyd protests over the past week. On Sunday, San Jose joined the shameful ranks of cities targeting reporters.

After nightfall, police detained two local reporters for allegedly violating a hastily enacted 8:30pm curfew, even though the order specifically exempts members of the media.

One of the journalists, Mercury News writer Maggie Angst, tweeted out just after 9:30pm Sunday that, “another reporter and I were brought down by cops, told to put our faces to the ground and threatened with a baton—even after we told them we were with the media, which is allegedly exempt from San Jose’s curfew order.”

Angst, who said she wore a press badge around her neck, continued the Twitter thread, saying that cops told her to “shut up and get [onto the] ground” when she tried to inform them that she was a reporter.

Luke Johnson, a freelance reporter with nonprofit news outlet San Jose Spotlight, was the second journalist involved in the incident. Johnson tweeted that he was held by police for two minutes after identifying himself as a member of the media.

The next morning, San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo personally apologized to Angst and in a public Twitter reply said SJPD Chief Eddie Garcia was trying identify the officers involved and “get to the bottom of it.”

In a follow up interview with San Jose Inside, the mayor called the situation “very troubling.” “It appears that the curfew orders could have been better communicated to the rank and file,” he said.

According to Garcia, the mix-up stemmed from City Attorney Rick Doyle signing the curfew order after SJPD officers had already started their swing shift, so the chief was unable to brief them on the exemptions.

At Tuesday’s San Jose City Council meeting Garcia said his department was looking into misconduct related to how long officers detained the two reporters.

City Manager Dave Sykes, who ultimately authorized the curfew, emphasized how the media is exempted in a statement to San Jose Inside.

“The curfew does not apply to any authorized representatives of any news service, newspaper or radio or television station or network,” he said. “We are evaluating the events of the first night of the curfew. In addition, we are evaluating the language in the order to ensure it is clear and will be reinforcing this message with our staff.”

But what happened to Angst and Johnson on Sunday evening was part of a broader trend. Multiple members of the local press corps reported being tear gassed or shot with rubber bullets over the past few days. KPIX reporter Len Ramirez said police shot projectiles in his back while delivering a live broadcast. NBC Bay Area reporter Scott Budman reported being tear gassed.

San Jose Inside freelance reporter and photographer Kyle Martin was also hit with multiple rounds of tear gas on Friday and said he witnessed police intentionally shooting another photographer with rubber bullets.

Kyle Martin after getting tear gassed.

Over the last week, the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker, which documents attacks on members of the media, has reported 211 press freedom violations and counting in relation to the George Floyd protests.

In a Tuesday afternoon tweet, the group said that more than 33 reporters had been arrested, 118 had been assaulted by police and 35 reporters had their equipment damaged.

In Minneapolis, a freelance photographer even lost one of her eyes in a standoff with police.

Media attorney Karl Olson told San Jose Inside that cities leadership needs to be clear about curfew exemptions. “It’s certainly is troubling,” he said. “Reporters covering a story like this, they’re really essential workers and they’re the eyes and ears of the public and they obviously have to be free to report. Whenever something like this happens you always wonder if they’re being targeted because they’re a reporter and whether law enforcement might be blaming the message.”

Councilman Lan Diep said that while he supports the curfew as a tool for law enforcement to use, he was “disturbed” that what happened didn’t “reflect what Chief Garcia said at the press conference when he announced [the curfew].”

“Clearly there was some miscommunication somewhere where the curfew was used to manhandle or hassle or to stop two members of the media, who clearly in the text of the curfew are exempted from the curfew,” he said.

Vice Mayor Chappie Jones said he supports a review of what happened to the paid of local reporters on Sunday. “There should be a review, an investigation and some corrected action that needs to be taken because this is not acceptable and shouldn’t continue to happen,” he said.

Grace Hase is a staff writer for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Email tips to [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @grace_hase. Or, click here to sign up for text updates about what she’s working on.

16 Comments

  1. Chief Garcia says that the swing shift officers already went out on patrol by the time the order was signed. What, the cops don’t have radios? Cell phones? Connected computers in their cars? We spend so much money on that bloated blue line and they can’t even get the word out to the officers on the street?

    Not buying it. That’s a lame excuse, Eddie. Need to corral your posse; if you can’t, get out of the way.

    You reporters are the brave heroes going out to get the story… Thank you!

    • Reporters are part of what’s normally called The Press. Their role is enshrined in the US Constitution. I mean, it’s in the very first amendment, which comes before the second amendment and thus, arguably, is more important.

      Mike, why do you hate the Constitution so much?

      • I used to admire reporters. But like they say, that was then — and this is now.

        Woodward & Bernstein showed how reporters can take down a legally elected President — they just need to have the #2 guy at the FBI funneling them information, even when it’s total speculation. Then the reporters write about it as if it’s a fact, and after enough of their Chinese water torture, they’ve “bagged the quarry,” as one of them smugly commented.

        Screw the voters who elected that President in a landslide, the Deep State knows what’s best for the proles. The bureaucrats wanted him gone, and they got what they wanted. Easy-peasy — with a corrupt FBI in your pocket. Even back then the bureaucracy was scheming to subvert the will of We The People…

        Ever since then reporters have become less and less admirable, until now they’re just about all co-opted by the Left, which has no use for the Constitution — no matter how many insincere words they mouth to the contrary.

        The following comment was made during a similar uprising:

        “As we look at America, we see cities enveloped in smoke and flame. We hear sirens in the night. We see Americans hating each other; fighting each other; killing each other at home. And as we see and hear these things, millions of Americans cry out in anguish: ‘Did we come all this way for this?’

        Sound familiar? That was spoken by Richard Nixon. In 1968.

        Those leftist ‘revolutionaries’ had no use for the Constitution. It’s just an impediment to what they want: total control. With them in charge. Naturally.

        This President has confounded the same kind of swamp creatures, and that’s why they’re going ballistic. But as Goethe wrote, there is nothing worse for the psyche than to be consumede by impotent hatred. Just look at them, if you want a picture of “impotent hatred.”

        If anyone is still wondering why this is happening again, it’s quite simple: TPTB want an outbreak of violence sufficient for the government to impose Martial Law (and with any luck, enough violence to also suspend habeas corpus).

        “But why?” I hear someone asking. Simples: Ask yourself: Cui bono? “Who benefits?”

        Hmm-m… Who would want a bigger, stronger, less tolerant gov’t? Who would want a gov’t that has no need for old timey nonsense like Constitutional “rights”?

        So then, where are we now? Pick a spot:

        The Five Stages of Collapse

        ~ Dmitry Orlov

        • Financial Collapse. Faith in “business as usual” is lost.

        • Commercial Collapse. Faith that “the market shall provide” is lost.

        • Political Collapse. Faith that “the government will take care of you” is lost.

        • Social Collapse. Faith that “your people will take care of you” is lost.

        • Cultural Collapse. Faith in the goodness of humanity is lost.

        NONE of this is the fault of those who believe that the Constitution was written to implement a small, limited government that protected a citizen’s rights. Rather, the impotent hatred fueling this episode of national violence is being paid for by people like Soros ($15/hr to rabble rouse; and we’ll even pay for your bus ticket).

        Pick your side, it’s easy: pro-Constitution, or anti-Constitution. Against violence, or trying to justify it.

        As always, you’re either part of the solution — or you’re part of the problem.

        YMMV…

    • WOW! When we start comparing war wounds we have a problem! This is not war in a foreign land, this is downtown San Jose, the heart of Silicon Valley. I am a member of SPJ , Investigative Reporters and Editors , EFF and Online News. I started my publishing and production business here in Santa Clara in 1996 and produced a small community based magazine in 2012 until I sold it to the Metro in 2015. It was then I began to investigate local public corruption. I have literally gone bankrupt doing this as who knew how incredibly corrupt our local government has become as local media has been forced out and tech / social media companies moved in.

      NONE of support riots. The First Amendment does not protect riots. ALL of us have a duty to protect peaceful protests, which are 99% of what we are seeing out there. It is safe to judge from the anonymity of a computer and seriously doubt San Jose reporters should be expected to get shot with any bullets while doing their job in our community. I put my name on everything. I go after public officials and I understand the risks associated with providing accurate information to the public. You clearly are uninformed when it comes to the law about the free press.

      The law does not carve out special treatment for reporters. The law provides that reporters are to be treated the same as any other member of the public. Blacklisting and selectively prosecuting disfavored media is a practice as old as time. Here in Santa Clara County our police chiefs and local DA, Jeff Rosen, have mastered this unlawful practice to remain in power. They are responsible for the culture that is creating unrest on the streets of Silicon Valley California. Diverting the topic to the bad actor looters is deflecting attention from where it rightfully belongs. Saying a reporter should accept the risk of covering a local protest that includes getting shot , even by rubber bullets, makes you no better than the looters.

      Our job is to provide transparency and accountability. As a news consumer certainly have the freedom to chose reporters you believe provide information you are interested in. If you only listen to one , you will be ignorant.

      I am a 56 year old women who lived here for 30 years, raised three kids and started multiple farming and publishing businesses here. I purchased two real properties and was a landlord and a renter in the county.

      On Friday a photo journalist and I were tear gassed when we recorded the police. We say good police officers controlling bad ones, but we also say the face of cops whose anger boiled up when they were verbally confronted by protestors. If a cop gets emotional over words, they are a danger to society and how do you think those cops will act when no crowds or cameras are watching. THAT is what these protests are all about. Years of this going on where nobody recorded the cops as they did George Floyd.

      On Friday in downtown San Jose, I observed protestors who were upset, but not a threat. I saw more police misconduct than looting.

      Sorry if being tear gassed doesn’t rise to a level you view appropriate risk for reporters . NO reporters in the story signed up for a war zone to accept the risk you seem to believe they should accept. This is not a war zone, or a third world country, but look down the street and you will see it sure feels like one.

      • https://sjoutsidethebubble.files.wordpress.com/2020/05/factcheckrequired.jpg

        > ALL of us have a duty to protect peaceful protests, which are 99% of what we are seeing out there.

        Facts from nowhere.

        ———-

        > Diverting the topic to the bad actor looters is deflecting attention from where it rightfully belongs.

        NOOOOOOOO!

        The attention BELONGS on the “bad actor looters”.

        Diverting attention to blubbering virtue signalers is “deflecting attention from where it rightfully belongs”.

        No one in San Jose is responsible for any harm to George Floyd.

        People in San Jose ARE responsible for violence, vandalism, and looting.
        ———–

        > Our job is to provide transparency and accountability.

        Well, you are not providing any transparency into the organization and funding for the riots and the looting.

        Or, are you going to say — WITHOUT ANY FACTS — that there are no outside “community organizers” and funding sources?

        The Police Commissioner of New York City just said in the last few hours that the scope of the riots shows a large amount of organization, planning, and coordination. He said the amount of funding is likely in the “tens of millions of dollars”. You MISSED that? ? ? ?

        If you think that AnriFA ( a designated terrorist organization), or Black Lives Matter, or Silicon Valley Debug aren’t involved and have no “accountability” for the riots, the vandalism, and the looting you are — to be kind — an incurious flop of a journalist.

        If there are jobs for journalists that pay for NOT seeing things and for looking the other way, let me know. I can do that as well as CNN or the New York Times.

        —————-

        > On Friday in downtown San Jose, I observed protestors who were upset, but not a threat. I saw more police misconduct than looting.

        It’s abundantly evident that your social justice goggles interfere with your vision. Your “observations” cannot be relied upon. If you were ever called on to testify to anything in a court of law, any mediocre lawyer from any mediocre law school would have you discredited in two seconds.

      • I very much appreciate what you write here and plan to Google your name to find any of your articles.

        Having said that, I have a question. You wrote “The law does not carve out special treatment for reporters. The law provides that reporters are to be treated the same as any other member of the public.“. A reporter wrote that she and an associate were following (running after) a group of protesters the officers were following (or running from). She stated she stopped when they began jumping over fences. What would be the reason for a journalist to run with protesters who officers are pursing? As much as I want to know what’s going on (and I DO!) I’m more interested in our officers AND the press 1) don’t impede the work of officers and 2) the press staying safe.

        If you have found misconduct within either the City of San Jose or Santa Clara County, I would love to read it.

        Thank you.

  2. Our freelance team also hit by tear gas on Friday night, long before the curfew. In this moment journalists are experiencing what everyone else has known for decades. We have mountains of SJ Police reports that are outright false and were used by a DA to prosecute the innocent. If Mayor Liccardo is so outraged, he needs to look at his appointments in the SJPD. Chief Garcia was shamelessly trying to build political clout by speaking out about the George Floyd case, when he should have been getting his own house in order!

    Remember :

    Officer Shimek murder – suicide in Gilroy ( Chris was SJPD)
    SJPD association selling guns in an auction to raise money for their police association.
    SJPD officer John Tompkins for drug and gun running , as reported in the San Jose Mercury: https://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local/san-jose-police-officer-arrested-on-drug-and-firearm-charges/95222/

    And of course there are the police officers gossiping like a group of middle school kids to slut shame the San Martin rape victim whose story was reported by SJI. (Apologies to middle schoolers).

    There are hundreds of stories and the bottom line is the buck stops on the desk of the DA, Police Chiefs, the county Supervisors and the county or city lawyers including James Williams and RIck Doyle who protect this culture as government lawyers.

    DA Jeff Rosen uses relationships, corruption and police misconduct to rig cases and keep his public office. Rosen uses bad cops as DA investigators ( Jeffrey Nichols) to secure a toxic culture in his own office,. Look to the streets of America to see what America thinks about that.

    This issue is so significant that protestors and journalists are going out in the face of a global pandemic to assure transparency and accountability when it comes to law enforcement and prosecutors who protect bad cops. ( Jeff Rosen!!! ) Duly elected judges are known to turn a blind eye to protect this culture.

    The local DA has created this culture in Santa Clara County for the past 10 years. In 2019, DA Jeff Rosen claimed he intended to do something about police misconduct when he saw the political winds changing. What did he do? Nothing but perpetuate the culture and protect the bad cops he uses to subordinate perjury in order to rig criminal cases for his own pollical career.

    Sam Liccardo , Judge Start Scott, Jeff Rosen, Jay Boyarsky, James Williams. Kasey Halcon, Teresa Soto , Ward Penfold, Susan Overton, Michael Rossi, James Gibbons Shapiro, Allison Filo, Eddie Garcia, James Towery, Ann Ravel, Matthew Fisk, Cindy Chavez, Susan Ellenberg, Dave Cortese, Joe Simitian, Mark Pierce , Mike Wasserman and countless other duly elected officials and public employees are paid by taxpayers to maintain this culture. Accountability must be from the top down!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aA5u7X5B0YE&t=458s

  3. Emotions aside, was any reporter in San Jose hurt? And I’m not talking about a rubber bullet boo boo. I’ve been shot with those and they do sting, but bruise heals. Tear gas sucks, that’s why they use it.

    Granted true reporters take risks. The risk is difficult and admirable. A reporter in a war zone may get shot and they know the risks and accept it. That doesn’t make it right but it’s a known risk. If you’re not willing to get shot, don’t be a war reporter. If you’re not willing to get tear gassed or bruised don’t be a RIOT reporter.

    With that in mind, I would like to see the list of 33 “official reporters with badges” published. Names and employer. If they are freelance, then list some of the media outlets they have sold to. If they are actually documented as reporters, with credentials, I’m sure the the charges will be dropped. I suspect that 32 of them are not actual professional reporters. BTW the tweet link is dead.

    If you are a reporter, then look like it and act like it, don’t look and act like a thug. If a cop tells you to get on the ground follow directions and don’t be the new story.

    Society of Professional Journalists
    “I think it’s important for journalists to be cognizant of their roles in disaster coverage,” SPJ President Kevin Smith said. “Advocacy, self promotion, offering favors for news and interviews, injecting oneself into the story or creating news events for coverage is not objective reporting, and it ultimately calls into question the ability of a journalist to be independent, which can damage credibility.”
    https://www.spj.org/news.asp?ref=948

    I’m not defending the actions of anyone, and cops, protestors and rioters are all human. There are 5,000 protestors 500 cops, and 50 rioters. So put yourself in their shoes of the cops, they have a mammoth task at hand and they are keeping their cool for the most part. They need to sort out that 1% of thugs. Sometimes that means everyone in the area needs to stop what they are doing and follow directions.

    Look up California Vehicle Code Section 2800 VC: Disobeying A Peace Officer.

    This means if a cop tells you to get on the ground, you need to do it now and sort it out later. I really don’t care if you are the pope, It’s in everyone’s best interest to play be the rules and figure out who is who later. Getting smart with a cop in this situation is just prolonging it and possibly putting others in harms way.

    We have a right free speech and I completely support that right. That can even be a PEACEFUL protest; however, when it starts getting violent it is now a RIOT. For some reason no one in the media has said the “RIOT”. Protestors don’t loot, do graffiti, kill innocent people, break windows and most of all fight with the police. The make a point by being present.

    The violence, chaos, fear and destruction has completely undermined the death of George Floyd.

    I do support protests, I DO NOT SUPPORT RIOTS.

  4. The Mayor calls the detention of those involved with violence troubling?

    Well, I find the Mayor’s ethics-challenged administration troubling.

    So we’re even.

  5. Dear Reporters,
    If you think being a reporter here is a hazarded take a look at Mexico. While the first amendment protects reporters and free speech, the reality is you are no more guaranteed the right to piss off cops and politicians and expect immunity from retaliation than gun owners can expect immunity from tyrannical local dictators and liberal reporters that ignore the constitution.

    Perhaps if you and your fellow ilk stand up for the entire Constitution and Bill of Rights and respect all Americans rights and feeling, and not just illegal alien’s and your favorite politicians you might start getting some respect back.
    Yelling fire in a crowded theater has no guarantee you won’t get trampled in the mess you went out of the way to start.

  6. The difference between a protest and a riot is the violence. Once the first punch is thrown, bottle tossed, window broken it’s a riot. I have yet to see it written or heard, “As riots continue across the nation today…” Why?

    “This is not war in a foreign land…” No it’s a war here, wake up! The politicians and media have created the divide for money and power. There are no new issues, the same exact issues have been going on for 100 years. Why haven’t they been resolved – money and power.

    “…seriously doubt San Jose reporters should be expected to get shot with any bullets while doing their job in our community.” … “The law does not carve out special treatment for reporters. The law provides that reporters are to be treated the same as any other member of the public.”

    I don’t expect to get killed while driving home, but I know it’s a very real possibility and I accept the risk. It happens more than once week in San Jose.

    Anyone that thought there would not be violence is naive and going to a violent event includes the risk of injury. That’s why the reporters, and others went there; to see the train wreck in person. People brought their children! For God sake bringing an innocent child to something that was assured to get violent is extremely bad judgment, bad parenting, and they should be accountable. While I agree no one expected to get shot “by a rubber bullet” or tear gassed, you had to know that there would a risk of injury or possibly death.

    In any case, it sounds like you answered my question, there are no permanent injuries as result of police actions in the San Jose riots.

    “Here in Santa Clara County our police chiefs and local DA, Jeff Rosen, have mastered this unlawful practice to remain in power.”

    Agreed, the political system is seriously screwed up. I’m not sure what that has to do with the riots?

    “Our job is to provide transparency and accountability. As a news consumer certainly have the freedom to chose reporters you believe provide information you are interested in. If you only listen to one , you will be ignorant.”

    I completely agree. Most of media is run by big money and they are paid to give an opinion for whatever the cause. Again not sure what that has to do with riots, but thank you.

    Now we get to the crux of the problem.

    “On Friday a photo journalist and I were tear gassed when we recorded the police. We say good police officers controlling bad ones, but we also say the face of cops whose anger boiled up when they were verbally confronted by protestors. If a cop gets emotional over words, they are a danger to society and how do you think those cops will act when no crowds or cameras are watching. THAT is what these protests are all about. Years of this going on where nobody recorded the cops as they did George Floyd.”

    I hope you saved the recording of the tear gassing. If it was unlawful, then it would be evidence against the police.

    To be clear there should never be “bad officers” controlled by anyone. Bad officers should be retrained, given other duties, or relieved of duty as a last resort.

    In the case of the riots, the police are there to provide safety and to protect property, not be abused or targeted and should not instigate violence. They will be and should be emotional under such stress.

    If someone stood in your face and yelled obscenities at you for hours on end, you would be emotional too. Cops are human and should have emotions. That’s what this is about. From what I saw of the George Floyd video, the cop acted without emotion. George was not struggling and was trying to comply. However the cop continued to occlude his carotid artery. Bad training, no emotion, bad combination. That’s from the videos I saw, I’m sure there are others too.

    BTW I can see you are responding with emotion by your grammatical errors and misspellings that are normally not present in your posts. You were probably emotional when you were at the riots too. So, I feel (judgment and emotion) it’s not fair of you to say that others should operate without emotion. It’s not a realistic nor fair expectation. Bad expectations always lead to disappointment.

    I still want to see the list of “reporters” arrested.

  7. I have donated to San Jose Inside because of articles like yours. Local news is important and i thank you and San Jose inside for their free articles.

      • > That means a lot, Lisa! Thanks for your support ^_^

        I think local news organizations need support and need to be supported.

        But the question is “How?”

        There are many issues.

        Who do you think ought to be supporting local news?

        A. Advertisers?
        B. Donors/foundations?
        C. Readers?
        D. Government/taxpayers?
        E. Staff/volunteers?

        Will whoever supports the news inevitably influence/determine the news content?

        I know who I DON’T want influencing and determining the news.

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