San Francisco Supervisors stall
on support for journalist
Josh Wolf, 24, was jailed yesterday after Federal Judge William
Alsup found Wolf in contempt of court, a charge brought about
by federal investigators purportedly interested in Wolf's videotape
footage identifying anarchists who may have been involved in torching
a San Francisco police car at a 2005 G-8 protest demonstration.
By Emmett Berg, Bay City News Service
August 2, 2006
SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) - On a day a journalist was jailed,
the San Francisco Board of Supervisors delayed voting on a resolution
concerning him and recent federal intervention into a 2005 protest
in San Francisco.
Though a vote was scheduled yesterday, Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi
asked his colleagues to allow the resolution to detour toward
a lower-level committee.
Mirkarimi said hearing the resolution at the committee level
will "give us a forum to clear up where we stand in terms
of state and federal law, as to which has primacy."
The board resolution has its roots in an ongoing effort by Joshua
Wolf, a freelance journalist, to resist a subpoena issued by a
federal grand jury investigating the July 8, 2005 protest in the
On that day, anarchists and others demonstrated locally against
the actions of political leaders from major industrialized nations,
who were meeting a world away in Scotland that same day, in an
annual gathering of the so-called "G-8" nations.
Wolf, 24, used a video camera to record parts of the protest,
which reportedly included clashes between police and demonstrators.
During the melee, Officer Peter Shields was struck in the back
of the head and injured by an unknown assailant, and an apparent
fire or smoke bomb was set under or near a police car.
Advocates for Wolf dispute that the car sustained damage as a
result of the protest.
Prosecutors have proposed in court documents that the federal
government has the right to subpoena Wolf's unedited footage in
its attempt to determine if indictable federal offenses occurred,
such as the attempted arson involving a patrol car.
Although the San Francisco Police Department is a local agency,
it receives funding from the federal government, a fact prosecutors
said made it legitimate issue for a federal grand jury.
In U.S. District Court yesterday, Wolf was found in contempt
of court and ordered jailed due to his continued refusal to turn
over the requested material.
Wolf's lawyer, Jose Fuentes, said outside of court that he will
immediately file an already prepared notice of appeal with the
9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.
Unlike federal law, California law does include a shield law
that generally protects reporters' materials.
But U.S. District Judge William Alsup said that although it is
not yet clear whether arson actually occurred, "The grand
jury has a legitimate right to look into violations of that law."
Wolf could be kept in prison until the grand jury's term expires
in July of next year.
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