The arrest: Josie Huang, a reporter for KPCC/LAist, was apprehended by the L.A. County Sheriff’s deputies over alleged “obstruction of justice” as she was documenting the arrest of a protesteroutside St. Francis Medical Center in Lynwood, LAist reported. Huang had just finished covering the press conference held by L.A. County Sheriff officials headed by Sheriff Alex Villanueva shortly after the shooting when she went to investigate a commotion after the conference finished.
Protestors had blocked the ambulance entrance to the hospital following the ambush shooting of two Sheriff deputies who were hit with gunshot wounds to the head by a suspect still at large, The Wrap reported.
The radio reporter was recording the encounter and even captured some audio after her smartphone was knocked away from her hand.In the clip, Huang can be heard identifying herself as a reporter and shouting “KPCC” multiple times.
Huang, who was thrown to the ground by the arresting officers, was wearing her press I.D. attached to a lanyard at the time.
Huang was also crying in pain and pleading to the officers, saying, “You’re hurting me.”
In a video captured by ABC7, at least five deputies can be seen arresting Huang, pinning her to the ground, handcuffing her and placing her in a patrol car.
The phone that Huang dropped in the scuffle appeared to have been stepped on by the officers multiple times during the incident.
Huang was detained at the Century Regional Detention Center before being released from the women’s jail at about 4 a.m. While she was released without bail, Huang was cited for an obstruction charge.
Huang reportedly sustained “visible bruises and scrapes, a sore shoulder and a blackened eye.”
After the press conference, I went to my car in the hospital garage and was tying things up on the phone with 1 of my editors. It was almost 11 pm. Then I heard loud shouting outside the garage, so I went to check things out. I had on a lanyard around my neck with a press ID.
Somehow I was able to start a new video right away. You see my phone clatter to the ground and I start shouting “I’m a reporter…I’m with KPCC.” I scream for help from the TV reporters I know are around the corner doing their 11 p.m. live hits pic.twitter.com/O9CZNuSrQI
I was put in the back of a patrol car — the start of some 5 hours in LASD custody that began with the deputy refusing to uncuff me so I could put my face covering back on, telling me I just had a “scrape” when I was bleeding from my foot and not giving me back a shoe
Thank you all for the support and to the loveliest colleagues at @KPCC and @LAist. Our newsroom works really hard to cover our community and is proud to exercise our 1st Amendment rights, along with all the rest of you.
The excuse: Deputy Juanita Navarro of the Sheriff’s Information Bureau would later say that Huang was arrested for suspicion of obstruction of justice by “interfering with a lawful arrest.” Navarro then claimed Huang “didn’t have proper credentials” at the time of the arrest, and the Sheriff’s Department made a claim via a thread of tweets early Sunday saying that Huang “ran towards the deputies, ignored repeated commands to stay back” and failed to identify herself as a journalist, according to CNN.
(3/3) The female adult, who was later identified as a member of the press, did not identify herself as press and later admitted she did not have proper press credentials on her person. Both individuals have been arrested for 148 P.C.
Based on Huang’s recording, the deputies were told at least five separate times in less than a minute that she was a reporter and staffer for KPCC, and that her press credentials were around her neck.
LAist and KPCC have since called for an apology from the L.A. Sheriff department.
“Her arrest is the latest in a series of troubling interactions between our reporters and some local law enforcement officers. Journalists provide an essential service, providing fair, accurate and timely journalism and without them, our democracy is at risk,” KPCC said in a statement.
Among those who condemned Huang’s treatment was the Society of Professional Journalists which released a statement urging the department to drop the charge, noting “this is at least the second time that a journalist of color from this news organization was mistreated and injured while reporting on civil protests.”
L.A. County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, representing Lynwood, called on Inspector General Max Huntsman to start an investigation into Huang’s arrest, which the latter said is underway.
“The Los Angeles County Office of Inspector General does confirm that we have initiated an investigation of the arrest by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department of KPCC reporter Josie Huang on September 12, 2020. The Inspector General will be discussing the matter at the Sheriff’s Civilian Oversight Commission meeting on Thursday, September 17,” a spokesperson at Huntsman’s office told NextShark.
We are aware of the incident which occurred in front of a hospital which resulted in two arrests. There is footage of the incident and an active investigation is underway. We are unable to comment further at this time.
NPR is appalled by the arrest of Josie Huang, a KPCC public radio reporter, who was performing her job last night—gathering facts to inform the American public. The rights of journalists are protected by the First Amendment, and essential to an informed public and our Democracy.
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