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A letter from Josh's mom; please copy and forward everywhere
Date: Mon, 20 Nov 2006 08:01:44 -0800 (PST)
From: Liz Wolf-Spada <liz_wolf_spadaATyahoo.com>
Subject: Jailed Video Journalist Josh Wolf To: AskDOJ@usdoj.com
Dear US Attorney Gonzales,
My 24 year old son, Josh Wolf, has been in jail for 90 days because he is not willing to testify about who was present at a demonstration in San Francisco on July 8, 2005.
Josh and his lawyers offered to let the judge see the unedited video tape to prove that it had nothing on it related to the supposed "alleged attempted arson" of an SFPC police car. The judge refused. To balance the rights of a free press, I believe the judge should have been willing to review the tape, seen that there was no attempted burning of a police car and let the case drop. The only damage to the car was a damaged tail light. That is according to the report of the San Francisco police department. Yes, people had firecrackers and fireworks at the demonstration. It was, after all, only 4 days after the Fourth of July.
The injury of a policeman in this demonstration is a serious issue, but it is a local issue and the DA is following up on that case. Josh was filming at the opposite end of the demonstration where he filmed that policeman's partner choking a young protestor, who, by the way, has been charged with "felony lynching" because while being choked he managed to squeek out the words, "Help me."
Josh published a compilation of his video on his web site and arranged to sell part of that to KRON TV. Other TV stations took the video off of Josh's site and began showing it and Josh was eventually paid for their use of his work. Josh has been video taping events in San Francisco for about 3 or 4 years. He is indeed a journalist whose blog reports news and events and opinions and which is regularly read by others. People ask him to film protest events for them because they know that if he is there that: 1, there will be less likelihood of police brutality and 2, there will be coverage of the event. He has published articles in local free papers and worked as an intern in Santa Barbara at a Santa Barbara paper. He worked on his high school paper. He college he studies film and psychology and his goal was to be a documentary film maker. He is employed by Peralta Community College TV station as media outreach director. He graduated from college in May, 2006.
California Shield Law, which has been ruled in state court, to cover bloggers and which gives journalists the right to protect unpublished sources, would have protected Josh in state court. It is hard to believe that the flimsy excuse of an "alleged attempted arson" of a police car, an incident that was not even mentioned in the police report, could be anything other than an attempt to pull this case out of state and local control and use it as a vehicle to begin or continue a witch hunt for dissidents who protest the current administration's policies.
Josh was awarded the Journalist of the Year award by the Northern California Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. An award also given this year to Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams. This was awarded to Josh for his courage and convictions to stand up for his beliefs in our rights to a free press.
Josh was raised to do what he believed was right. I taught him about Martin Luther King, Jr. and the civil rights movement. I had no idea that it would cause him to be imprisoned for probably a year or even longer.
Recently, US Attorney Finnegan confirmed that the tape is not really what he wants, as Josh's lawyer, Martin Garbus, offered to let him have the tape, but not Josh's testimony. This was refused.
With serious problems facing our country in the area of national security, I think it is much more important that our government continue to pursue Bin Laden and not focus on protestors in San Francisco who are exercising their first amendment rights.
Please do what you can to get my son out of jail. The judge is US District Court Judge William Alsup. Josh's lawyer will be asking for a Thanksgiving furlough for Josh tomorrow, Tuesday, November 22, as well as asking for Judge Alsup to end this imprisonment of my son. My father, Josh's grandfather, is 87 years old and very frail with 24 hour live in care. Josh would really like to see him and of course worries that he could pass away while he is in jail.
Thank you for your consideration and Happy Thanksgiving,
Yours, Liz Wolf-Spada A Concerned Mom, Teacher and Citizen