Andrea Sahouri Wiki – Andrea Sahouri Bio
Iowa journalist Andrea Sahouri, who was arrested while reporting on racial justice protests last summer, was found not guilty in a trial that received widespread condemnations from journalism and free media.
Sahouri, a Des Moines Register reporter, was one of a handful of journalists whose charges stemming from the news of the protests following the murder of George Floyd were not denied. More than 120 reporters were arrested or detained in 2020, but in most cases, prosecutors dropped the charges.
Andrea Sahouri Arrest & Charge
Sahouri was acquitted of the crimes of misdemeanor, non-dispersion and intervention in official actions. Both served 30 days in prison.
Sahouri, who guarded public safety in Des Moines, was on duty for a protest gathered at Merle Hay Mall on May 31st. Sahouri was with her then-boyfriend Spenser Robnett, who was there for his safety while following the show.
Robnett was also acquitted of both charges.
Sahouri said on Tuesday that he is a journalist determined to follow the historic protests unfolding in Des Moines. The officer who arrested him said that when he first met, he immediately introduced himself as a reporter. However, after the officer told him, “I didn’t ask for this,” he was sprayed with tear gas and handcuffed.
“It is important for journalists to be at the scene and document what happened,” Sahouri said in his testimony. “Protests erupted not only across the country, but all over the world. I felt like I was playing a role in this. I know we are a small city, but I felt like I was playing a role in it.”
Prosecutors at the Polk County Prosecutor’s Office attempted to narrowly explain the case, saying that Sahouri’s status as a journalist reporting on the scene was irrelevant to whether she had committed the protests. They argued that Sahouri and Robnett had heard orders to disperse an hour and a half before their arrest, could not leave the area and tried to get away from the officer who arrested Sahouri.
But the defense said the orders before the arrests sent conflicting messages in a chaotic scene. When the arrests took place, Sahouri, Robnett, and another Des Moines Register reporter who was with them but was not arrested was walking away from a crowd where police were spraying tear gas. The defense argued that the allegation that he interfered with the arrest of Sahouri and Robnett did not create other statements and photographs and videos from the scene.
The officer who arrested Sahouri did not operate the body camera, but an officer who arrived there a few minutes after the arrest. The video seen during the trial showed Sahouri telling police officers that he was on duty repeatedly while begging for help with tear gas in his eyes.
“This is my job. This is my job,” said Sahouri. “I’m just doing my job.… I’ve been sent here.… I’m a journalist.”
According to the US Press Freedom Watcher, Sahouri was one of more than a dozen journalists still charged for their arrest during the summer protests. In most cases, police departments and prosecution offices never fully followed the charges against a journalist following a demonstration.
David Ardia, a law professor and co-director at the Center for Media Law and Policy at the University of North Carolina, told the US TODAY that trials in a case like the Sahouri case were “extremely rare” before the trial.
Before the verdict, Senator Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, described the reporters as “some kind of cop for our government system.” Grassley said he was unfamiliar with the details of the case and what Sahuri was doing on the scene. However, he added, “If he were only following the press and not breaking any law, just reporting, then the First Amendment should have been covered by freedom of expression,” he added.
However, police officers stated that they were seen in body footage of Sahouri and Robnett, and a local television station broadcasting the protest during and after the announcement of distribution orders. Police officers said protesters threw stones and water bottles while breaking windows and damaging other property.
Des Moines police Lieutenant Chad Steffen said he told people to “disperse” and also to pull back while the public address system of a crew car was heard against the background of the body camera image telling them to “protest peacefully.”
Sahouri and Robnett said they never disobeyed the police’s orders and never heard orders to disperse the area. At one point, Robnett said that Sahouri had spoken to a police officer at the scene after the dispatch order was read out stating they could stay in the area.
Sahouri said he was trying to stay away from the police to report damage to property, looting, and people entering the mall. Katie Akın, the fellow Register reporter at the crime scene, said she met with Sahouri and Robnett, and the three of them frequently walked away from police officers based on their instincts of what was happening rather than any orders from the police.
Des Moines Registration Reporter Andrea Sahouri left the podium after testifying at the Drake University Legal Clinic in Des Moines on Tuesday, March 9, 2021.
The arrests took place around 20:00. That evening after the police sprayed tear gas at a large group. Sahouri said the chemical was dispersing people. As they walked away, Robnett was shot by a bullet he believed came from the police.
As the three continued to walk away, Sahouri said he turned around and saw a police officer rushing to him, so he stopped. “I didn’t think it was a good idea to run from officers,” she said.
Des Moines police officer Luke Wilson said he saw a group of people hovering over him, spraying tear gas, and that Sahouri was the only person who did not leave immediately.
“Then Wilson caught him and started arresting,” he said. When he grabbed one of his arm, Wilson said he was trying to pull his arm. The officer said he was not sure why, stating that he was still able to feel the effects of the pepper spray. Wilson also said that Robnett was trying to get Sahouri from him, so he sprinkled pepper on him.
Sahouri and Robnett refused to interfere with Wilson. Robnett said that when he saw the police approaching him, he took a step towards Sahouri, peppered immediately and fell to the ground. While on the ground, he recorded the video of the incident that he heard the group identify Sahuri as a reporter.
Wilson said he thought he was operating the body camera before the arrests. About 15 minutes later he pressed a button on the camera to record the recording, but said he was confused when the camera appeared about to start recording at that time. When Wilson realized the incident had not been recovered, he said it was too late to keep the footage. In his instructions to the judges, they were allowed to consider whether they believed Wilson had deliberately tried to persist the footage and whether this would affect the case.
Akın photographed moments after the arrests. Sergeant. Natale Chiodo, whose body camera shots were taken a few minutes later, said that she met Akın when she arrived but did not arrest her. “He looked so scared to me,” he said. “He wasn’t a threat. He wasn’t going against our orders.”
The Register’s executive editor, Carol Hunter, said on Tuesday that Sahouri is on duty and is in contact with editors who are not on the scene to determine where she should be located. He said Sahouri did not violate any Des Moines Register policies the night he was arrested.
Hunter added that Sahuri did not carry a media ID at the time of his arrest, but that there was no official media identification document indicating that Sahuri may have been issued.
A press badge for Des Moines Register reporter Andrea Sahouri shows a photo of the prison reservation where she was arrested on May 31, 2020 while watching the Black Lives Matter protest.
Prior to the trial, several media and journalism groups called for the dropping of charges against Sahuri, including the Committee for the Protection of Journalists, the Reporters Committee for Press Freedom, and students and staff of the Columbia University School of Journalism, which Sahuri recruited. Master’s. The human rights organization Amnesty International also handled the case.
Hunter TODAY told the US before the trial that the Registry is helping Sahuri fight the charges because “they see it as a fundamental principle … a reporter has the right to observe what is happening in a protest scene.” statement. “