A reporter was briefly arrested on Thursday while covering a pro-Palestinian protest in the southwestern U.S. city of Tucson, Arizona.
Video and photos posted online show Alisa Reznick, a reporter with the National Public Radio affiliate KJZZ, being handcuffed and detained by a Pima County sheriff’s deputy. Reznick was wearing a visible press pass and identified herself as a journalist.
"I’m a reporter," Reznick said. "And you’re under arrest," a deputy replied.
Reznick was among 25 other people who were arrested at the protest. Although the reporter was released later that same morning, press freedom groups condemned the arrest.
"We are deeply concerned that the Pima County Sheriff’s Department handcuffed and detained NPR-affiliated journalist Alisa Reznick as she was doing her job covering a protest, and clearly identified herself as a journalist," Katherine Jacobsen, U.S. and Canada program coordinator at the Committee to Protect Journalists, said in a statement.
"Police should conduct an internal investigation as to why they detained a reporter and obstructed her from newsgathering," Jacobsen said.
Reznick was reporting on a protest outside UA Tech Park. The University of Arizona satellite campus is home to Raytheon, a defense contractor that has sent weapons to Israel.
"It is essential that journalists be able to remain on the scene of protest activity to cover both the demonstration and law enforcement’s response to it," Gabe Rottman, director of the Technology and Press Freedom Project at the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, said in a statement.
"Detaining, arresting or otherwise removing journalists who are doing their jobs deprives the public of on-the-ground reporting that is vital to bringing people the information they need, and there is a danger that laws like trespass can be used as a pretext to shut down public interest newsgathering," Rottman added.
Pima County Sheriff Chris Nanos told Arizona Public Media that he stood by the arrest.
"If you find that our deputies did something that you think was inappropriate, unprofessional, illegal, please, I want to be the first to know about that," Nanos said. "But from what I've seen, and what I've heard from talking to all the other media outlets, they don't believe our deputies were in violation or any of that, that they did their best to keep things calm."
Nanos said Reznick was asked multiple times to leave the area but refused to do so.
"I am hearing that she was given that opportunity, as several other people, multiple times when she was requested, as were several others, to leave the area," Nanos said. "Her, as well as now I understand this number has gone up to 26 people, chose not to do that."
According to the Daily Beast website, a senior KJZZ editor said in a statement that the station was "continuing to seek clarity from the sheriff’s department on the circumstances of this incident where a clearly identified journalist was in the course of reporting the news."