Josh Wolf In Jail
Er, I just found out about this and am rather sketchy on the details. In late 2004 when I was thinking about learning more about video, I met a young guy named Josh Wolf whose enthusiasm and dedication to becoming a documentarian was almost overwhelming. I quickly decided that running around with a video camera was not something I felt like doing at the time, so I only hung out with him and his fellow camera-geeks a few times. So now, apparently, he is in jail for contempt-of-court because the judge wants him to change his mind about handing over footage of a demonstration (turned violent) to the feds
. This is quite in line with the feds constantly obsessing with chasing dissenters. On the face of it, this seems wrong to me, and this SF Chronicle column seems to make the case quite well
To spell out for people what's wrong with this picture---if journalists have to hand over their outtakes and their notes and negatives, if every camera--even a journalists's camera--at every protest or gathering automatically becomes federal property, nobobdy will talk to us, and nobody will let us take pictures of their gatherings and videotape their opinions. And it's not because people know they're doing something illegal. It's because people know that even legal things can be held against them, and they don't want to have to deal with the incovnenience of being on a mistaken no-fly list or proving their innocence. And if journalists are not allowed to check things out and write about them, independent of the government, you, the citizen, won't know anyone else's side of the story.
I can't say I knew Josh terribly well. I only met him a few times, mostly in loud bars where everyone was awkwardly talking about their camera-size and editing software. But he was a kind and patient explainer of technical details, and even so kind as to worry that I had become ill or something when I stopped hanging out. So I hope things work out with his legal battles. Here's a blogpost from his mom
, and here's a Huffington Post article