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Journalists condemn attack on 1st Amendment in Burlington

Protesters in Burlington march with copies of Seven Days newspaper.
Protesters in Burlington march with copies of Seven Days newspaper.(Courtesy: James Buck)
Published: Sep. 29, 2020 at 5:39 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 30, 2020 at 8:57 AM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - The Vermont Journalism Alliance, of which WCAX-TV is a member, has issued a statement condemning what alliance members see as acts of censorship and intimidation by a group of protesters in Burlington.

At issue is the protesters' response to a story in Seven Days newspaper last week about the occupation of Battery Park and ongoing racial justice protests. Seven Days says after the story was published, hundreds of copies of the free newspaper disappeared from newsstands. Later that night, some of the protesters marched to Main Street and burned some of the copies in the street.

Protesters march with copies of Seven Days with words written on them, and sat in on Main St....
Protesters march with copies of Seven Days with words written on them, and sat in on Main St. where organizers burned a paper and invited other BIPOC women to join them in tearing up more copies, and then instructed white male protesters to pick up and recycle the torn up pieces on Sept 24, 2020 in Burlington, Vermont.(James Buck | Courtesy: James Buck)

The Vermont Journalism Alliance, which works cooperatively on issues of free speech and public access to government records, issued the following statement:

“The Vermont Journalism Alliance condemns the attempts to bully and intimidate Seven Days by some individuals involved in ongoing racial justice protests in Burlington. Hoarding and burning newspapers is an act of censorship. It is meant to strike fear in journalists covering the important public dialogue around racial justice and police brutality. We call on leaders of the Burlington protest to refrain from attempting to curtail the media’s constitutional freedoms as they fight for their own. We acknowledge the role media has played in systemic racism over the centuries, and our organizations are committed to breaking that cycle in our coverage.”

Protesters march with copies of Seven Days with words written on them, and sat in on Main St....
Protesters march with copies of Seven Days with words written on them, and sat in on Main St. where organizers burned a paper and invited other BIPOC women to join them in tearing up more copies, and then instructed white male protesters to pick up and recycle the torn up pieces on Sept 24, 2020 in Burlington, Vermont.(James Buck | Courtesy: James Buck)

The Vermont Journalism Alliance includes the following news organizations in radio, television, print and online media:

  • Seven Days
  • Valley News
  • Vermont Public Radio
  • Vermont Community Newspaper Group
  • VTDigger.org
  • WCAX-TV

Click here to see the Seven Days story on the incident.

Protesters march with copies of Seven Days with words written on them, and sat in on Main St....
Protesters march with copies of Seven Days with words written on them, and sat in on Main St. where organizers burned a paper and invited other BIPOC women to join them in tearing up more copies, and then instructed white male protesters to pick up and recycle the torn up pieces on Sept 24, 2020 in Burlington, Vermont.(James Buck | Courtesy: James Buck)

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