The start of jury selection in the first Freddie Gray trial will bring a big media presence to town Monday — and major challenges for the journalists trying to cover the proceedings.
The courthouse logistics are tough enough. There will be no cameras in the courtroom, and all electronic devices must be turned off in both the courtroom and an overflow room where reporters will watch a closed-circuit feed.
To tweet or post about the trial, members of the press will have to go to a media room where there will be no feed of court proceedings. Sheriff’s deputies have the right to “inspect all electronic devices for misuse” and confiscate them. Nor are they responsible for “damage or loss” of any devices they inspect or seize, according to an order signed by Administrative Judge W. Michel Pierson.
But restrictive as that might seem, the greater challenge for journalists involves the sociology and timing of the trial. In the wake of the release of a video showing a black teenager being shot and killed by a white police officer in Chicago, the trial arrives at a moment when the eyes of the nation are on race and community-police relations like no other time since the civil rights struggles of the 1960s.
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