May 3, 2012
Dear Attorney General Eric Holder:
The First Amendment has come under assault on the streets of America. Since the Occupy Wall
Street movement began, police have arrested dozens of journalists and activists simply for
attempting to document political protests in public spaces. While individual cases may not fall
under the Justice Department’s jurisdiction, the undersigned groups see this suppression of
speech as a national problem that deserves your full attention.
The alarming number of arrests is an unfortunate and unwarranted byproduct of otherwise
positive changes. A new type of activism is taking hold around the world and here in the U.S.:
People with smartphones, cameras and Internet connections have been empowered with the
means to report on public events. These developments have also created an urgent need for
organizations such as ours to defend this new breed of activists and journalists and protect their
right to record.
Freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and freedom of access to information are vital whether
you’re a credentialed journalist, a protester or just a bystander with a camera. In the digital age,
these freedoms mean that we all have the right to create and share information using all manner
of devices and lawful means.
In this new environment, we must guard these rights and protect the networks that give so many
the means to connect and voice their political beliefs. The First Amendment’s protections must
extend to everyone.
The right to record is an essential component of our rights at a time when so many of those
witnessing public protests carry networked, camera-ready devices such as smartphones.
Continuous access to the open Internet and social media — over both wired and wireless
networks — is also essential.
We the undersigned call on authorities at the local, state and federal level to stop their assault on
people attempting to document protests and other events unfolding in public spaces. We must
protect everyone’s right to record.
Electronic Frontier Foundation
National Press Photographers Association
New America Foundation
Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press
Reporters Without Borders