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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.
Photo(s) by Luke Thomas

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 Mission District.

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.

Copyright © 2006 by Bay City News, Inc. -- Republication, Rebroadcast or any other Reuse without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.




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