ATTACK ON AFTRA MEMBER PROMPTS CALL
TO POLICE CHIEF FOR SAFETY OF LOS ANGELES NEWSPEOPLE
LOS ANGELES (June 8, 2006)—In response to the brutal attack of a local radio news reporter while covering a story, the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) today called upon Los Angeles Police Department Chief William Bratton to work with AFTRA members to help provide safety and security for journalists.
The request to Bratton was prompted by the attack of Sandy Wells, a radio reporter and AFTRA member, while waiting to cover a news assignment on a public street across from the Academia Semillas del Pueblo Charter School in East Los Angeles on the morning of June 1.
“The people of Los Angeles depend upon reporters to provide the news they need to be informed citizens,” said Lawrence Mayberry, AFTRA Los Angeles Local Director of Broadcast. “But when reporters are attacked, the public’s right to know is threatened.
“The safety and security of newspeople is essential to covering and investigating stories. AFTRA members deplore the efforts of any person or entity to thwart the newsgathering process by violence or threat of violence,” Mayberry said.
“Sandy Wells is a great journalist and valued long-time member of AFTRA,” Mayberry said. “It definitely appears that he was targeted for this act of violence because of his role as newsperson.”
Mayberry continued, “To our knowledge the perpetrators of the attack have not been apprehended. We know that the Police Department is doing all in its power to apprehend and bring the perpetrators of this attack to justice. AFTRA members are willing to do whatever we can to help accomplish this task.”
In a letter to Bratton, Mayberry asked to meet with the chief or designated representatives to discuss ways that AFTRA members can work together with the police department and employers to coordinate protections for newspeople.
In supporting AFTRA member Sandy Wells, Mayberry explained, “Radio and television newspeople, as well as other TV and radio personalities, throughout the Los Angeles market have a strong voice at work through AFTRA. Members work together to protect and improve working conditions, with particular concern for safety, especially when job assignments require members to cover stories in public locations.”
The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists—affiliated with the AFL-CIO—is a diverse national union representing over 70,000 professional performers, broadcasters, and recording artists in 32 Locals throughout the country. AFTRA members work as actors, broadcast journalists, dancers, singers, announcers, hosts, comedians, and disc jockeys in all aspects of the media industries including television and radio, cable, sound recordings, commercials, non-broadcast/industrials, interactive games, and other digital media . For more information, visit AFTRA online at www.aftra.com.