Newsom signs North Bay lawmaker’s bill to protect journalists covering protests – CBS San Francisco
SACRAMENTO (CBS / AP) – California will protect journalists from police interference while covering civilian protests under a North Bay lawmaker’s bill signed by Governor Gavin Newsom on Saturday.
It was the second new law in days with implications for freedom of expression.
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The measure, also known as Senate Bill 98, stipulates that journalists can stand behind police lines during protests, marches or rallies without being quoted or arrested. It prohibits the police from “intentionally assaulting, interfering with or obstructing” their collection of information.
Last year, Newsom vetoed a similar measure amid police fears that the measure would allow journalists access to emergency command posts on the ground, as well as other areas. closed to the general public.
The bill’s author, Democratic Senator Mike McGuire, and others said it was similar to existing California law that allows journalists to go to places like wildfires or other areas. disaster evacuation.
“There is no doubt about it, California now has some of the strictest protections for journalists compared to any other state in the United States,” said McGuire, whose district covers Marin County, a large part of Sonoma County, as well as the north coast. “We have seen an upsurge in blatant acts of violence and obstruction against members of the press across the country and right here in the Golden State.”
Supporters included California news publishers and broadcasters, the California ACLU, and the First Amendment Coalition.
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The California Association of Chiefs of Police said the measure is vague, too broad, and will lead to costly litigation over a bill it says will “unduly penalize officers for fulfilling their critical mission of protecting the public.” .
Newsom acted days after approving a bill prohibiting approaching within 9.14 meters (30 feet) of a person at a vaccination site “for the purpose of hindering, hurting, harassing , intimidate or interfere ”. Violators could face up to six months in prison and a fine of up to $ 1,000.
Opponents, including the California Family Council, the Alliance Defending Freedom and the Life Legal Defense Foundation, have argued that the measure violates free speech and is so broad it can apply to anti-abortion protesters.
Life Legal Defense Foundation legal director Catherine Short said in a statement she plans to quickly challenge the law and seek a temporary injunction and preliminary injunction in federal court.
Democrat MK Akilah Weber, who backed the measure, said it “balances the rights of those who make a personal choice about how they wish to manage their health care and safety and the personal rights of those who wish to protest against their oppositions “.
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