Two reporters from the conservative news site The Daily Caller, who were arrested for unlawful assembly in Louisville on Wednesday even though they identified themselves as press, were released on Thursday, following a night of police brutality protests they covered in the wake of the Breonna Taylor verdict.
Thousands of protestors took to the streets Wednesday night after a grand jury decided not to bring any charges against the officers who shot and killed Breonna Taylor during a botched drug raid in March, and Daily Caller reporters Shelby Talcott and Jorge Ventura were detained as they were reporting on the demonstrations.
“We are all on the ground right now and police are taking people and putting them in zip tie cuffs,” Talcott tweeted as she was being detained. She can be heard saying, “Sir, we’re press,” to a nearby officer.
After spending a cramped night in jail, Talcott and Ventura have been released, Daily Caller publisher Neil Patel said in an interview
“These two reporters have probably been to more protests than anyone,” Patel told The Independent. “They’ve never been arrested. They’ve certainly been attacked, certainly punched, but never arrested.”
This came after repeated attempts from their colleagues to notify the Louisville Metropolitan Police Department the reporters were present at the protest to do their job.
Daily Caller Editor-in-Chief Geoffrey Ingersoll notified the LMPD that night that they were press, but says police told him they would be charged nonetheless with two misdemeanors related to breaking curfew and unlawful assembly for allegedly failing to disperse and move to a press “observation area,” according to a Wednesday tweet.
Daily Caller staff have also said police didn’t allow them to speak with a lawyer for hours. The LMPD did not respond to a request for comment.
According to Patel, the police are still bringing the charges against Talcott and Ventura. The publication is hiring lawyers for their defense, though it suspects the charges will be dropped.
“I don’t require any of our guys to go out, this is all volunteer,” Patel said of covering these protests in person. “Shelby is one of the first to volunteer and so is Jorge. They don’t have to go back out, but my guess is they probably will.”
Journalist arrests have soared this year, with many arrested while covering Black Lives Matter protests . At least 63 were detained this year, according to the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker, and more have been attacked, alarming civil society advocates.
Protests raged and two police officers were shot following the announcement that the two officers who shot Taylor in March faced no charges, and a third on the scene during the raid faced lower-level charges of wanton endangerment for firing bullets into a nearby apartment as part of the search. Taylor’s family called the decision a “sham proceeding.”