Free speech is under fire across the United States following the death of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis police.
The protests that have erupted in hundreds of communities have been met by police officers who often fail in their duty to uphold the First Amendment right to assemble for the purpose of demanding change. Television cameras have recorded police using excessive force against peaceful protesters. Some are the acts of individual officers. Others are decisions apparently made at a high level, including the decision to use force to clear protesters in front of the White House, giving President Trump a clear path to a nearby church where he posed for a picture.
Freedom of the press is also under attack. There have been more than 160 reports of journalists being harassed, arrested, and hurt as they attempted to cover the protests. Some of the assaults were instigated by protesters and many injuries occurred by accident when reporters were caught in a clash between police and protesters. However, it is clear that some officers have targeted reporters for punishment. (In the above photo, CNN reporter Omar Jimenez is arrested in Minneapolis on May 29.)
A free press is particularly important at a moment like this. Rumors are spreading. Some say Antifa is causing the violence; others claim it is white supremacists or even Chinese agents. We depend on journalists, who are putting themselves at great risk, to get us the facts.
Police officers have a duty to uphold the law. They must remember that this includes protecting the rights guaranteed by the Constitution and its First Amendment.