Atlanta agrees to $105K settlement with photojournalist arrested throughout George Floyd protests in 2020

The Metropolis of Atlanta agreed to a $105,000 settlement with a photojournalist who was arrested whereas taking pictures photos of a protest in Could 2020, simply days after Minneapolis police killed George Floyd.

The College of Georgia (UGA) Faculty of Legislation’s First Modification Clinic and civil rights attorneys Gerald Weber and Leigh Finlayson secured the settlement with the Metropolis of Atlanta on behalf of Sharif Hassan.

Photojournalist Sharif Hassan was arrested on June 1, 2020, whereas masking a Black Lives Matter protest in Atlanta, after a city-imposed curfew.  (UGA First Modification Clinic)

George Floyd’s demise on Could 25, 2020, sparked protests in cities throughout the U.S., together with Atlanta.

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In response to the protests, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms ordered a blanket curfew within the metropolis on Could 29, 2020, that started at 9 p.m., and in contrast to comparable curfew orders, it didn’t present an exception for members of the media.

On June 1, 2020, Hassan was photographing the Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests in downtown Atlanta.

courtroom and gavel

Inside a courtroom with gavel in view.  (iStock)

In keeping with a press launch from the UGA Faculty of Legislation’s First Modification Clinic, Hassan was “pressured to the bottom and handcuffed” seconds after he began taking photos of police arresting somebody on a public avenue.

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The discharge stated Hassan repeatedly recognized himself to police as a working journalist, but he was nonetheless positioned beneath arrest for violating the mayor’s curfew.

Nonetheless, members of different media shops have been capable of collect information within the space after 9 p.m., and with out police interference.

Hassan was jailed for a number of hours whereas nonetheless handcuffed, the discharge famous, and he confronted prison prosecution for greater than six months. Then, the Metropolis of Atlanta dropped the costs towards Hassan for what it stated have been “evidentiary causes.”

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In response, Hassan sued town for violating his First Modification proper to file police in a public place.

“I introduced this lawsuit to carry the Metropolis accountable for swiftly making a police state whereas leaving our rights as journalists as an afterthought,” Hassan stated. “Readability and communication throughout these occasions [of public discourse] is important for the security of residents, journalists and law enforcement officials. Illegal arrest whereas being separated and handcuffed by way of the night time is one thing that ought to not occur to members of the press. The objective is to make sure that our rights are protected sooner or later.”

Together with reaching a $105,000 financial quantity, the settlement additionally consists of language to think about media in any future curfew orders imposed by the mayor of Atlanta.

Each events agreed that if a city-wide curfew is critical, town’s legislation division could take into account together with textual content that working members of the media are exempt from the curfew so long as they don’t deliberately impede or disrupt legislation enforcement actions.

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“This decision sends an vital message that First Modification rights have to be protected, together with, and particularly, throughout occasions of political and social upheaval,” First Modification Clinic director Clare Norins stated. “It’s important that working members of the media be allowed to watch and report on issues of public concern, together with after-curfew interactions between civilians and the Atlanta Police Division.”

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