Coalition calls for charges to be dropped against journalist in Edmonton

Brandi Morin arrested during raid on homeless encampment.

Several journalism organizations are calling on Crown prosecutors in Edmonton to drop charges against Brandi Morin, an Indigenous journalist who was charged in early January as police were dismantling a homeless encampment.

“Let me be blunt,” said Brent Jolly, president of the Canadian Association of Journalists (CAJ), at a news conference on Jan. 29, “based on all evidence, Brandi was targeted and singled out for doing her job as a journalist. Brandi’s arrest makes an absolute mockery of the right to freedom of the press and the ability to report on the activities of taxpayer-funded law enforcement agencies.

“This entire situation is an abomination, particularly as it relates to the important pursuits of reconciliation and justice. It must be corrected now.”

On Jan. 10, Edmonton police arrested three people, including Morin, who was there covering the raid.

Morin said she identified herself as a reporter to police – yet she was arrested and handcuffed.

In a video posted on social media on Jan. 30, Morin updated her day.

“I am headed to Edmonton police headquarters,” she said in the video. “I have to show up to be fingerprinted, mug-shotted and basically criminalized. This is really solidifying, I’m being criminalized for doing my job – holding the police to account.”

The coalition fighting for the charges to be dropped is comprised of the CAJ, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Reporters Without Borders, the Indigenous Journalists Association, the Coalition for Women in Journalism, Journalists for Human Rights, PEN Canada and Amnesty International.

“We’re very concerned by the behaviour of the Edmonton Police toward Brandi Morin,” said Katherine Jacobsen, program coordinator with the CPJ, at the news conference. “Local law enforcement’s decision to press charges against her despite the evidence that she was not in violation of Canadian law at the time of her arrest. Our research shows that arresting reporters serves as a blunt form of censorship.

“A journalist in handcuffs cannot get their story out. Beyond an initial detention, prosecuting reporters creates a harmful chilling effect and serves as a form of intimidation for their peers.”

Morin was later released on a promise to appear in court in February.

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