New York, February 9, 2023 — Law enforcement in East Palestine, Ohio, should immediately drop all charges against NewsNation correspondent Evan Lambert and thoroughly investigate why he was arrested, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Thursday.
Around 5 p.m. on Wednesday, February 8, Lambert was giving a live report for cable network NewsNation about a recent train derailment when at least four law enforcement officers approached and asked him to stop speaking because Ohio Governor Mike DeWine was simultaneously giving a press conference, according to NewsNation and news reports.
Lambert finished his report, and then the officers, some with “Trooper” insignias on their uniforms and others in dark green shirts and khaki pants, surrounded him, pushed him to the ground, and handcuffed him, according to those sources.
Law enforcement officials escorted Lambert into a van marked with the Columbiana County Sheriff’s insignia and then brought him to the Columbiana County Jail. He was held until about 10 p.m. and charged with disorderly conduct and criminal trespassing.
“It is outrageous that local law enforcement in Ohio would arrest and charge a journalist for simply doing his job and reporting live from a press conference,” said CPJ U.S. and Canada Program Coordinator Katherine Jacobsen. “East Palestine law enforcement should immediately drop all charges against NewsNation correspondent Evan Lambert and thoroughly investigate why he was arrested in the first place. There is no reason why a journalist should be manhandled while reporting the nightly news.”
Under Ohio law, the penalty for disorderly conduct is a fine of up to $150; the penalty for criminal trespassing is a fine of up to $250 and up to 30 days in jail.
Governor DeWine apologized for the incident and said he did not authorize Lambert’s arrest, according to NewsNation.
When reached via phone, the Columbiana County Sheriff’s office told CPJ that the East Palestine Police Department filed the charges against Lambert. The East Palestine Police Department told CPJ by phone that a press release with all relevant information about Lambert’s arrest was forthcoming. That release was not published at the time of this article’s publication.
CPJ called and emailed the Ohio State Highway Patrol but did not receive any responses.