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OPINION-TWO OF OUR REPORTERS ARRESTED baselessly

May 7, 2024 by ABNER HÄUGE

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For weeks now, the world watched U.S. police violently repress student demonstrations against the U.S.-backed genocide in Gaza. Police let fascist mobs onto campuses like UCLA to terrorize students in the pro-Palestine encampments. No one from the pro-genocide mob at UCLA was charged as of this writing, despite beating students with metal rods, spraying mace on them, shooting fireworks at them.

“I have scratches all over my body from being hit with sticks when I was dragged out into a group of counter-protestors,” 21-year-old student Aidan Doyle told USA TODAY. “They hit me on the back with sticks, slashed my elbow with a metal rod, maced me and then threw a hammer at my leg.”    

Few at the top of liberal bastions care enough to acknowledge the violence at universities in the U.S, where many of the pro-Palestine students assaulted are Jewish. Nor do they acknowledge the violence in Gaza, where all universities have been flattened by Israeli bombs and tens of thousands of children murdered, starved, maimed. Some buy the line of groups like the ADL, that any protest against Israeli aggression is antisemitic by default and needs no further examination, just a boot on the neck. Others are too cowardly to acknowledge the reality of the violence. They’re ostensibly news agencies, but they paint the bright red blood in the dull hues of passive voice. Palestinians “were killed in an airstrike.” Students “were detained.” As if the weather did it and we can watch it drift away like a storm cloud.

But now a few more in the press are becoming a bit more indignant because police detained some of our own. And as editor of this outlet, I feel compelled to say something because both of them are LCRW reporters. Police singled out and detained Alissa Azar while she was covering events at Portland State University Thursday last week.

This is what she wrote to LCRW about the incident:

“Police have made it clear they target individuals based off of their known or assumed political and ideological beliefs, speech and target people based off of what they’re are wearing. That is not how the law works and it’s inexcusable. When I was arrested I was surrounded by other reporters and photographers standing in the same area as me. I saw students, faculty and other community members brutally assaulted and arrested for standing in a public park or chanting with their peers at the police. Furthermore, the treatment after getting arrested was disgusting. Our phone calls were interrupted thus making it near impossible to communicate we had been arrested, multiple officers were talking about me like they knew me and made comments about our time together in 2020, one of which even took a photo with me as I was in handcuffs, and they repeatedly made transphobic comments and “jokes.”

On Monday, police detained Sean Beckner-Carmitchel while he reported on students being detained en masse. William Gude, a videographer who documents police misconduct, was also arrested along with a group of student protesters, legal observers and Carmitchel. UCPD cuffed Carmitchel and took him to Van Nuys Station before letting him go and dropping the frivolous charges.

a police officer covers their mouth while whispering as another leans their ear in to listen and others stand around in riot gear
Photo taken by Alissa Azar under two minutes before she was arrested.

What did Carmitchel, Gude, Azar, or any of the students or legal observers do to deserve this? Did they shoot fireworks or beat someone with metal rods? Of course not. They threatened no one.

LCRW formed in the aftermath of the protests at UC Berkeley after students smashed windows and burned down a police generator to stop Milo Yiannopoulos from giving a hate speech and potentially outing trans and undocumented students. The behavior of college administrators, police, politicians and media today does not surprise us in the least.

Seven years ago, UC Berkeley let hundreds of cops onto campus in the months after Yiannopoulos’s shutdown. They were determined to make sure Ben Shapiro could give a speech that was mostly about how awful black people are. Those cops let the Proud Boys march around campus undeterred and even took their cues on who to detain from the Proud Boys. I remember Chancellor Christ patting herself on the back about what a good job she did having Shapiro speak. She never said a word about the students who were doxxed and harassed all year because the university kept letting violent fascists onto campus over and over again. The media kept ignoring what was happening and calling antifascists “outside agitators” and the police kept enabling it and turning their violence on the most marginalized people there.

This keeps happening, yes, but it is our job as reporters to remind the public that those who let this keep happening have a choice in the matter. UCLA and PSU administrators chose to let police run amok and arrest our reporters without cause. Police chose to violate students’, reporters’ and everyone else’s First Amendment rights. Legacy media chose to minimize the reality on the ground.

University administrators and police crossed countless lines during these protests. The fact that they can boldly arrest journalists, legal observers, students, teachers and whoever else they want shows that legacy media isn’t holding them to account. Every news outlet in the country should ask why they are so brutal against nonviolent students while enabling fascists who beat and ram their cars into innocent people. And to that end, I have some questions.

To every university administrator in the nation: Are you going to let this continue? Are you going to guarantee the safety of your students, of legal observers and reporters?

To every law enforcement agency in the nation: Are you going to keep doing this? If you swore an oath to the Constitution and you keep violating students, reporters and others’ First Amendment rights like this, what does that make you?

To every news agency who isn’t covering this: Are you going to keep silent now that they’ve arrested reporters, or are you going to wait until they arrest your reporters?

And to LCRW’s readers, I can only say two things: First, it is going to get more difficult to report on this. Second, we are going to keep reporting on this. On behalf of our staff, I thank you for your continued support.

Abner Hauge

Editor in Chief

ABNER HÄUGE

Abner Häuge (they/them) is a journalist and you can’t say they’re not because they got a Master’s from UC Berkeley’s Journalism School. After better journalist @desertborder texted them a hilarious screenshot of a Fox News segment, they spent all night memeing ‘ATTACK AND DETHRONE GOD’ and it became their catchphrase. You can usually find them in the bisexual aisle of the supermarket stocking up on Pocari Sweat for the boog.

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