Urgent Action: Drop Charges Against Journalist (USA: UA 14.21)

February 10, 2021

On the night of 31 May 2020, police in the city of Des Moines, Iowa, pepper sprayed, arrested, and detained journalist Andrea Sahouri while she was reporting on a Black Lives Matter protest even after she yelled “I’m press, I’m press.” The prosecutor has insisted on moving ahead with a trial for two simple misdemeanors, which could result in a fine, 30-day jail sentence, or both. Andrea’s trial is beginning on 8 March 2021. We demand authorities dismiss all charges against her.

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TAKE ACTION:

  1. Write a letter in your own words or using the sample below as a guide to the government official listed below. You can also email, fax, call or Tweet them.
  2. Click here to let us know the actions you took on Urgent Action 14.21. It’s important to report because we share the total number with the officials we are trying to persuade and the people we are trying to help.

CONTACT INFORMATION

County Attorney John P. Sarcone
Polk County Attorney’s Office,
Polk County Justice Center,
222 Fifth Avenue
Des Moines, Iowa 50309
Email: [email protected]

SAMPLE LETTER

Dear Mr. Sarcone,

I write to urge your office to take immediate action to dismiss all charges with prejudice in State of Iowa v. Andrea M. Sahouri, SMAC 388817.

On the evening of 31 May 2020, Ms. Sahouri was covering a protest on assignment for the Des Moines Register. Despite identifying herself as a journalist, she was pepper sprayed, arrested, and detained for several hours.

To ensure the right to freedom of expression and the right to freedom of peaceful assembly, members of the media have a right to attend and report on peaceful assemblies, and law enforcement officials have a responsibility not to prevent or obstruct their work.

I urge you not to move forward with the prosecution of Ms. Sahouri and to dismiss immediately all charges against her with prejudice. Reporting at a protest scene as a working member of the media is not a crime.

Yours sincerely,

[YOUR NAME]

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES