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Detention Of Independent Journalist At UCLA Protest Draws Criticism

Legal experts and press organizations are criticizing the detention of an independent journalist, along with a prominent police critic at the UCLA campus on Monday morning, amid ongoing protests of the war in Gaza, reports the Los Angeles Times. Sean Beckner-Carmitchel, and independent journalist who has a long history of covering protest movements in Los Angeles and whose video work in particular has been featured in various mainstream news outlets, was detained — with his hands zip-tied behind his back — while observing the detention of dozens of others in a campus parking garage. William Gude, a prominent police critic in L.A. who regularly records officers on the street for his many social media followers, was also detained.

“Unless you can provide an explanation, please ensure both Beckner-Carmitchel and Gude are immediately released,” Adam Rose, press rights chair for the Los Angeles Press Club, wrote in an email to campus leaders. In her own email to campus officials, Susan E. Seager, who directs the Press Freedom Project at UC Irvine School of Law and represents independent journalists in court, called Beckner-Carmitchel’s detention illegal — including under a recent California law expanding journalists’ rights at protests — and demanded his release. “Sean had the right to film police even if police had set up police lines or even if they had declared a curfew,” she said in an interview with The Times. Seager also warned that it would be illegal for police to search any of Beckner-Carmitchel’s devices. “It appears he was arrested for simply filming UCLA police conducting arrests or completing arrests of students in a public parking lot,” Seager said. “The arrest of Sean is illegal, period. He wasn’t interfering with police.”


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