If you are covering the conventions, you should know about a wonderful resource that the Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press has every convention cycle: 24-hour convention legal hotline for journalists. According to their website, the RCFP has provided this service for every convention cycle for the last 36 years.
Credentialed journalists who face detention and arrest can call the hotline for legal help. There are different numbers for Republican and Democratic Conventions, but both numbers, and an informative flier that definitely should be printed out and brought to the convention is at this link:
The flier is jam-packed with useful notes. Please print it out and bring it with you. Read it on the plane. It has great insight into the arrest procedures, bonding, etc.
Why all the fuss about journalists and arrests at conventions? You can read this story about journalists arrested in the 2004 Republican National Convention in New York City.
Hopefully we won’t see a repeat of that mess. But whether you are credentialed media, traditional, student, freelance, blogger, be aware of the potential for problems and be prepared with a way to deal with it. Above all, remain calm and professional- annoyed cops often go overboard and being legally right doesn’t matter much if you miss the story because you are stewing in a jail cell.
Here are the hotline numbers:
- Democratic Convention Hotline: (303) 376-2404
- Republican Convention Hotline: (651) 238-1884
More info from the flier:
- The MEDIA HOTLINE should not be used for disputes over credentials or problems unrelated to your news coverage of the convention. You may call the Reporters Committee’s regular hotline, (800) 336-4243, if you have other credentialing or access issues.
- Non-credentialed reporters and protestors who are arrested may not use this MEDIA HOTLINE, but may instead contact the People’s Law Project of the National Lawyers Guild at (303) 830-0277.
- Questions about civil rights and liberties issues will be fielded by the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado at (303) 777-5482, ext. 118.