FAC Calls on Governor to Sign Bill Strengthening Press Protections at Protests

An update on FAC’s 2021 legislative priorities

SB 98: Press Protections at Protests

The First Amendment Coalition calls on California Gov. Gavin Newsom to sign Senate Bill 98 into law. The bill will further clarify the rights of journalists at protest scenes. It prohibits officers from assaulting, interfering with or obstructing a journalist from covering a protest or demonstration. It also allows a journalist who has been detained to speak to the supervisory officer to immediately challenge their detention. 

The last year’s events have further illustrated why the governor must act. More than 50 journalists reported being targeted by law enforcement while covering protests in California, and a disproportionate number of those journalists are Black or brown, Ashanti Blaize-Hopkins writes in The Sacramento Bee

FAC and a broad coalition, including California News Publishers Association, California Black Media, Ethnic Media Services and others, strongly support this bill. Read our letter in support.

Tell Newsom to sign SB 98.

Here’s what editorial boards and other journalists are saying:

Newsom must act; reporters need protection at protest scenes (LA Times editorial)

Sign legislation protecting reporters who cover protests (Mercury News editorial)

Journalism is not a crime. Gov. Newsom must sign a bill protecting reporters (Sacramento Bee commentary)

SB 16: Police Transparency 

This bill also deserves the governor’s signature. SB 16 would expand on 2019’s landmark police transparency law, SB 1421, which made certain categories of police personnel records accessible under the California Public Records Act for the first time in decades. Unfortunately, law enforcement agencies and labor unions took advantage of ambiguities in SB 1421 to stifle access to critical information. SB 16 would expand access to records related to sustained findings of unreasonable or excessive force, unlawful searches or arrests, and certain types of misconduct. While the bill was amended to weaken some of the pro-transparency provisions, SB 16 should still be signed into law.
Read FAC Executive Director David Snyder’s op-ed in support.

Additional bills that deserve Newsom’s signature:

  • AB 48 Protections for protesters (PASSED)
  • AB 339 Remote participation in certain Brown Act-governed meetings after the pandemic (PASSED)

Status of bills FAC opposed in 2021:

  • AB 268 Sealing of autopsy records (WITHDRAWN)
  • AB 361 Governing public meetings during an emergency (PASSED)

You can make your voice heard by registering your position via the governor’s web page.