May 16, 2019 – San Francisco Press Club strongly condemns the San Francisco Police Department raid of the home and office of freelance journalist Bryan Carmody.
Police used a sledgehammer to break into his home. Then they handcuffed him and seized his phones, computers, notebooks and other items.
Police raided his home and office to find out who leaked their report about the death of Public Defender Jeff Adachi, who died in the presence of a woman who was not his wife. Adachi had cocaine and alcohol in his system.
Carmody is refusing to divulge his source of the police report. The police department, instead of looking within its own ranks for the employee who leaked this report, is using the full force of its police powers to intimidate Carmody in the hopes he will give up his source.
The board of directors of the San Francisco Press Club stands fully behind Carmody.
Moreover, his stance is fully supported by California’s Shield Law, which originally was put on the books in 1935 (as Code of Civil Procedure Section 1881) and was elevated to the state Constitution by the voters in 1980 (Article I, Section 2, subdivision (b)). (See https://www.rcfp.org/privilege-compendium/california/)
Today (May 16, 2019) the Press Club sent letters to California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon seeking the following:
1. A full investigation into the circumstances surrounding the raid of Carmody’s home and office.
2. The unsealing of the two warrants.
3. The return of all materials taken by police.
4. An order that police not read or copy any of the materials that were seized.
5. Training for the officers involved in this search about the Shield Law and related statutes that protect the rights of journalists.
6. An end to any attempt to force Carmody to disclose his source.
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The text of the club’s letter is here.
We realize that many in leadership positions in San Francisco are embarrassed and angry that the circumstances surrounding Adachi’s death were publicly disclosed.
But that doesn’t justify storming a reporter’s home, seizing his documents and equipment, and handcuffing him for six hours. The raid on Carmody’s house and office is a grotesque violation of the law that is intended to protect freedom of the press, a pillar of our democratic republic.