In 2020, 127 journalists were arrested or detained in the U.S.

Of those, 13 face long-term legal action. One of them is Andrea Sahouri, a Des Moines Register reporter and 2019 Columbia Journalism School alumna.

Three years ago Columbia Journalism Review wrote that the “most dangerous place to be a journalist in America is at a protest.” That was never more true than in 2020, when the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker documented an unprecedented 127 arrests or detentions of journalists, most of them while covering protests on racial justice, police brutality, election results and more.

Like the thousands of protesters who were arrested, the vast majority of the journalists were ultimately released or never charged. But a handful still face a day in court — including CJS’19 alumna Andrea Sahouri.

Sahouri will stand trial on March 8th in Des Moines on criminal charges of “failure to disperse” and “interference with official acts.” She was arrested May 31, 2020 while reporting on a demonstration in Des Moines protesting the Minneapolis killing of George Floyd. A little before 8 p.m., Sahouri reported on her Twitter account that police had used tear gas to disperse protesters. As Sahouri moved with the crowd to escape the gas, she said she was confronted by police, who pepper-sprayed her. KCCI 8 News footage shows her in custody, seated on a street curb.

In a video she recorded while in a police transport vehicle, Sahouri says she told police “I’m press, I’m press,” before they pepper-sprayed her. In the video, posted to her Twitter account, Sahouri says, “I’m doing my job as a journalist. I’m just out here reporting as I see.”

On March 8th, join our campaign to #StandWithAndrea.

Update: Andrea Sahouri has been acquitted of all charges. Read the J-School statement on the verdict.

March 8th: Take Action for Andrea

Andrea Sahouri goes on trial in Des Moines, Iowa on Monday, March 8th at 10 a.m. (streaming here). Show solidarity and stand with Andrea on Twitter, Facebook and other platforms by posting or tweeting your support on the day of the trial. Be sure to:

  • post on March 8th, starting at 8 a.m. CT/9 a.m. EST
  • use the hashtag #StandWithAndrea
  • use the suggested text and images below

#JournalismIsNotACrime: I #StandWithAndrea, on trial 3/8 for doing her job covering protests in Des Moines after the killing of George Floyd. Learn about Andrea and show your support for #pressfreedom: https://journalism.columbia.edu/stand-with-andrea

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A threat to the #freepress is a threat to everyone. Reporter Andrea Sahouri, on trial today, was arrested for doing her job. Tell @PolkCounty_Iowa that journalism should not be treated as a criminal act. #StandWithAndrea

orange background and text I #STANDWITHANDREA

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Stand with Andrea

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Mar. 10, 2021Arrested journalist pleaded with officer: ‘This is my job’ - AP News

Mar. 9, 2021Live updates: Trial of Des Moines Register reporter Andrea Sahouri continues with more testimony from police - Des Moines Register

Mar. 8, 2021US journalist arrested while covering BLM protest goes on trial - Al Jazeera

Mar. 8, 2021Rare trial of U.S. journalist arrested on the job begins in Iowa - The Washington Post

Mar. 8, 2021 Des Moines Register reporter on trial: Did Andrea Sahouri disobey police orders or was she 'assaulted while doing her job'? - Des Moines Register

Mar. 8, 2021 - US journalist arrested while covering protest goes on trial - AP News

Mar. 8, 2021Des Moines Journalist Arrested While Covering Social Justice Protests Faces Trial Monday - Iowa Public Radio

Mar. 7, 2021Iowa reporter is going on trial after covering BLM protest - Reliable Sources, CNN

Mar. 5, 2021Reporter faces trial in case seen as attack on press rights - AP News

Mar. 5, 2021 - A Reporter Is Going On Trial Over Her Coverage Of Black Lives Matter Protests In A Widely Condemned Case - Buzzfeed News

Mar. 5, 2021The Backstory: A reporter arrested while covering a protest faces trial Monday. Here's why you should care. - USA TODAY

Mar. 4, 2021 -  Iowa prosecutors must drop criminal charges against journalist Andrea Sahouri - Amnesty International

Mar. 3, 2021At least 3 US reporters face court hearings on charges from 2020 coverage of protests and rallies - Committee to Protect Journalists

Mar. 3, 2021In 'exceedingly rare' case, Iowa journalist faces charges from reporting on summer protests - USA TODAY

Feb. 24, 2021 - It violates free press rights to bring to trial a Des Moines Register reporter arrested while covering a protest - Des Moines Register

Feb. 23, 2021Reporter arrested covering George Floyd protests speaks out while facing charges - The Independent

Jan. 17, 2021Four Years in the Front Row - ELLE

July 21, 2020Judge declines to dismiss charges against Register reporter, but orders state to produce bodycam footage - Des Moines Register

July 16, 2020 Prosecutor: No time for evidence against arrested reporter - The Washington Post

May 31, 2020Reporter pepper sprayed, arrested amid protests in Des Moines - U.S. Press Freedom Tracker