The CWA Canada Student/Associate Members are outraged with the recent developments in the United States, with now well over 100 incidents where members of the press have been attacked by law enforcement while reporting on the wave of protests sweeping the country in the wake of George Floyd’s murder at the hands of the Minneapolis police. These include a pair of incidents where CBC/Radio-Canada reporters have been shot at with rubber bullets and had tires slashed on their vehicles.
As student journalists and emerging media workers, we cannot sit by while members of the press are subjected to this brutal behaviour while merely fulfilling their obligations as reporters, documenting these issues of public interest, as they unfold. We will call it what it is. This is state repression of the free press.
We are calling for an immediate end to this violence. We demand that authorities in the United States instruct police to no longer target journalists with threats of arrest, intimidation and violence. These are essential workers that are being targeted and we need to ensure that they are able to report safely on protests without harassment. As journalism goes, so goes democracy.
Furthermore, while we cannot in good conscience condone some of the behaviour of the protestors, we understand that this explosion of anger has largely been a direct response to the decades-long issues of police brutality and racism in America. So, it is not simply enough to call for an end to violence towards our brother and sisters in the media, we must also condemn the trend we have all witnessed of police violence against these demonstrators who have been justifiably expressing their anger.
As members of the media, we have an incredibly important role to play in shaping how most people will view these protests. For this reason, it is vital that we do not simply trivialize and sensationalize these events. Instead, we as media workers must be vigilant in our work. We cannot merely emphasize the drama, inconvenience and disruption of these protests, but must work to also highlight the demands and grievances of the protestors.
The CWA Canada Student/Associate Membership Program Steering Committee