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Governor vetoes bill protecting journalists covering protests

Governor vetoes bill protecting journalists covering protests

Governor Newsom last evening vetoed legislation that would have protected journalists covering protests and demonstrations from being assaulted, arrested, or obstructed from gathering news during these events. 

SB 629 by Senator Mike McGuire (D-Healdsburg) would have allowed a duly authorized member of the media to enter areas closed off to the public by first responders during a demonstration, march, protest or rally and create an accelerated process for a journalist to challenge being detained by an officer. 

Newsom wrote in his veto message that the definition of a “duly authorized representative of the news media” was too broad and would allow “white nationalists, extreme anarchists or other fringe groups with an online presence” to be protected by the bill. This language, however, is in existing Penal Code section 409.5, a statute that gives journalists access to cover events like wildfires and other disasters. 

The Governor’s veto message can be read here

CNPA, California Black Media, La Opinion, the ACLU, the First Amendment Coalition, the California Broadcasters Association and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press are supporters of SB 629. 

Law enforcement organizations were strongly opposed to the measure.