More than 60 journalists have sued police after arrests or assaults at protests, according to new analysis from the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker. That total amounts to 82% of the lawsuits filed by journalist or media outlet plaintiffs against public officials. More than two-thirds of these suits — some 76% — were filed following aggression at Black Lives Matter protests in the past 18 months.
When a journalist sues to enforce their First Amendment rights, it can kick off a long and expensive legal process with no guarantee of accountability. In some cases, public agencies will settle early in the process — usually with a monetary agreement — and offer concrete changes to police policies or procedures as part of the settlement. Other lawsuits can languish for years or be dismissed altogether.
The new analysis goes into detail on those settlements, as well as the approximately 29 press freedom lawsuits that remain pending. That litigation is in courts all over the country, and represents journalist suits brought in Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New York City, Portland and elsewhere.