Tuesday, June 29, 2021

MFIA Clinic Represents Journalist Injured by Police at Protest

Sterling Law Building

The Media Freedom and Information Access Clinic (MFIA) is continuing its mission to defend the rights of newsgatherers by serving as co-counsel to a photojournalist who was blinded in one eye by police while covering a Black Lives Matter protest in Minneapolis in May 2020. Linda Tirado was tear gassed and shot in the face with a foam bullet as she attempted to exercise her First Amendment rights to gather and communicate the news. The Clinic is partnering with lawyers at Sidley Austin LLP and Greene Espel PLLP to vindicate her rights and make clear that police cannot target journalists for doing their jobs. 

Tirado’s suit alleges that police violated the First Amendment by shooting her in retaliation for exercising her rights and the Fourth Amendment by using excessive force against her. It also alleges the defendants engaged in a conspiracy to violate her rights and that police in Minneapolis have a custom or practice of retaliating against journalists. The defendants include the City of Minneapolis, the Minneapolis Chief of Police, and the president of the Minneapolis police union.

In February, the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota denied the defendants’ motions to dismiss. The case is now proceeding to discovery. 

“This case is a broader expansion of MFIA’s work on law enforcement transparency and accountability,” said MFIA student Sara Worth '21. “There is a particularly heightened need to affirm the First Amendment protections for newsgathering when journalists are covering law enforcement’s response to protests against activities of the police.” 

“This case is about ensuring the press can do their jobs and exercise their rights without being attacked by police,” said Michael Linhorst, MFIA’s Craig Newmark Fellow. “For our democracy to function, we need the press out there to observe how the state is exercising its police power.” 

The Media Freedom and Information Access Clinic (MFIA) is a law student clinic dedicated to increasing government transparency, defending the essential work of newsgatherers, and protecting freedom of expression by providing pro bono legal services, pursuing impact litigation, and developing policy initiatives.

By Leah Ferentinos