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Police in Arizona Arrest Reporter Covering Pro-Palestine Protest

Alisa Reznick’s arrest marks the second time police within the United States have detained a reporter at a pro-Palestine protest in recent months.

Pima County Sheriff Chris Nanos
Pima County Sheriff Chris NanosPima County Sheriff’s Department / YouTube

Police on Thursday morning arrested a reporter with Arizona’s local NPR affiliate while she was covering a pro-Palestine protest.

The reporter, Alisa Reznick, who works for KJZZ, had visible press credentials displayed from a lanyard hanging around her neck when Pima County Sheriff’s Deputies handcuffed her, according to a photo and video footage of the incident posted online. Reznick, a senior field correspondent with KJZZ News’ Fronteras Desk and the NPR network, was detained for several hours before being released.

Reznick is at least the second reporter within the United States arrested while covering a pro-Palestine demonstration, according to the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker, a database of press freedom violations in the United States.

On Oct. 20, police in Reno, Nevada, handcuffed freelance photojournalist Eric Marks while he was covering a pro-Palestine demonstration. According to local news, police told Marks to walk towards oncoming traffic. When he refused, an officer grabbed Marks, twisted his arm behind his back, handcuffed him, and detained him for 30 minutes. Ultimately, the police gave Marks a citation for jaywalking.

A video of the Arizona incident shared online by Unicorn Riot, a nonprofit media organization, shows a deputy grasping Reznick’s forearm and refusing to let her leave.

“I told them I’m going to my car, which is right there,” Reznick said, pointing with her recording equipment. “I’m going right now.”

“And I’m telling you you’re under arrest,” the deputy said. Reznick turned to hand her recording equipment to the person recording her, but the deputy held onto her arm and limited her movement.

“You are under arrest,” the deputy repeated. “You’ve had plenty of time to go to your car.”

Reznick asked for permission to hand her equipment to another reporter, then did so as the deputy clasped onto her the whole time.

“How can you arrest me?” Reznick asked. “I’m not even involved in this.”

“Just turn around for me, okay?” the deputy replied before handcuffing Reznick.

“We asked you to leave, and you remained for several more minutes,” another deputy said. The video then cuts out.

Reznick did not immediately respond when contacted for comment. In a statement shared with The Appeal, Michel Marizco, senior editor of KJZZ’s Fronteras Desk, questioned why the incident was necessary.

“The Pima County Sheriff’s Department handcuffed and detained our journalist, Alisa Reznick, while she was in the course of reporting on a protest outside the UA Tech Park,” Marizco said. “We are continuing to seek clarity from the sheriff’s department on the circumstances of this incident where a clearly identified journalist was in the course of reporting the news.”

When asked why deputies knowingly arrested a reporter, a spokesperson for the Pima County Sheriff’s Department told The Appeal that Reznick “was on private property, and after being asked to vacate that privately owned property, they refused to do so, and were arrested for criminal trespass.”

Dozens of protesters with the Tucson Coalition for Palestine had gathered on Thursday outside the UA Tech Park—where weapons manufacturer Raytheon Missiles & Defense is headquartered—to protest the arms company supplying weapons to Israel. Raytheon and its parent company, RTX, have manufactured key portions of Israel’s “Iron Dome” rocket defense system, including the missiles the system fires. RTX has also supplied Israel with bombs and missiles used to kill Palestinians, including so-called “bunker-buster” bombs designed to penetrate underground and level buildings. U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin formerly sat on Raytheon’s board of directors.

In an Oct. 24 earnings call with investors, RTX Corporation CEO Greg Hayes reportedly said the company could “benefit” from increased U.S. military aid to Israel.

The protesters gathered outside of Raytheon in an act of civil disobedience on Thursday morning, holding signs saying, “Stop U.S. aid to Israeli apartheid” and donning white t-shirts with black, red, and green lettering that read, “End the genocide economy. Free Palestine.” During its two-month assault on the Gaza Strip, Israel has killed an estimated 14,500 people—including more than 5,500 children—and displaced at least three-quarters of the 2.3 million total Gaza residents. Numerous rights organizations and historical experts have described Israel’s attack on the Palestinian people as an act of genocide.

The Tucson Coalition for Palestine did not immediately respond when contacted by The Appeal. One organizer told a local news outlet, Arizona Luminaria, that the group had gathered to draw attention to corporations with ties to Israel who are “complicit in ongoing genocide.” The organizer also said they chose to hold a demonstration outside Raytheon to take the fight for solidarity with the Palestinian people “straight to where we see it if our leaders aren’t acting.”

In a press release, the Pima County Sheriff’s Department said deputies arrested 26 people for criminal trespassing. Police officials allege that demonstrators had “entered private property, blocked the roadways, and prevented employees from entering and leaving the facility.” Law enforcement then transported the 26 arrestees to one of the department’s district offices, where they were then cited and released.

Police across the country have arrested people at pro-Palestine demonstrations on numerous occasions. The New York Police Department arrested 34 people protesting Israel’s killing of Palestinian people during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Earlier this month, police in Washington, D.C., violently shut down a peace protest outside the Democratic Party headquarters and injured approximately 90 people.

In a statement shared on Twitter, the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona said the sheriff’s department had overstepped by arresting Reznick.

“The arrest of a member of the press is deeply concerning,” the ACLU of Arizona said. “Arresting journalists while doing their job to keep the public informed is a blatant violation of their constitutional rights.”