Arrest of People’s World reporter picked up by press freedom watchdog
Protests in St. Louis after ex-cop is acquitted of murder. | AP

The arrest of People’s World reporter Al Neal, along with 143 others in St. Louis, has drawn the attention of the watchdog site U.S. Press Freedom Tracker.

The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker is a website maintained by a coalition of professional societies, news organizations and “free expression advocates.” Among them are the Society of Professional Journalists, of which the Peoples World is a member, the Freedom of the Press Foundation, the Association of Alternative Newsmedia (of which People’s World is a member), and the NewsGuild-CWA (which represents People’s World editorial staff).

The purpose of the website is to “create a centralized repository for research… [t]he data [the website] gathers will help inform advocacy, journalism, and legal action.”

According to their statistics, to date in 2017 there have been 31 arrests of journalists, 14 equipment searches and seizures, 28 physical attacks on journalists (many by police), and 4 border stops of journalists.

Along with Neal, at least five other journalists were arrested in St. Louis on October 3. Among them, Jordan Chariton and Ty Bayliss of The Young Turks, independent journalist Jon Ziegler, and freelance photographer Daniel Shular.

All five were “kettled,” or surrounded by police and indiscriminately arrested, and are being charged with misdemeanor trespassing. Al Neal will be defended by ArchCity Defenders, a non-profit civil rights law firm that “combats the criminalization of poverty and state violence against poor people and people of color.”

“The attacks on freedom of the press have grown since Donald Trump assumed the presidency,” said John Wojcik, editor in chief of the Peoples World. “Our commitment to cover the news, including the news of peaceful protests being mounted by folks all over this country remains as firm as ever. We are pleased that many journalists and their organizations, not to mention a broad array of civil liberties groups, are a part of this ongoing struggle.”

People’s World will bring you more information as the situation develops.


Patrick J. Foote
Patrick J. Foote

Patrick Foote writes occasionally for People's World. At the University of Central Florida, he worked with the Student Labor Action Project organizing around the intersection of student and worker issues. He would go on to work in the labor movement in such organizations as Central Florida Jobs with Justice, AFSCME Council 79, and OUR Walmart.