Washington, D.C., May 9, 2023—In response to news reports that freelance photojournalist Stephanie Keith was arrested while covering a protest in New York City on the evening of Monday, May 8, and authorities accused her of interfering with arrests, the Committee to Protect Journalists issued the following statement:
“We strongly condemn the arrest of freelance photojournalist Stephanie Keith, who was doing her job and trying to document matters of public importance,” said Katherine Jacobsen, CPJ’s U.S. and Canada program coordinator. “New York authorities should drop any charges against Keith relating to yesterday’s arrest and show restraint in their crowd control tactics. Arresting reporters is a crude form of censorship and limits the public’s ability to access information about current events.”
Keith was covering protests over the recent killing of Jordan Neely on the New York subway. In a video of her arrest posted on Twitter, an officer holding her arm can be heard saying, “Lock her up,” before two other officers take her arms. Keith is heard responding, “Please don’t.” In those news reports, Keith can be seen wearing her press pass and holding a camera.
The Daily News reported that Keith faced charges of disorderly conduct and interfering with three arrests. New York City Police Department Chief of Patrol John Chell said during a press conference that Keith “interfered” with three arrests before officers arrested her. CPJ was unable to immediately determine whether she had been formally charged.
When CPJ emailed the NYPD public information office, a representative said Keith had been released with a summons and declined to confirm whether she had been charged.
If charged and convicted of disorderly conduct, Keith could be sentenced to 15 days in jail and a fine of up to $250. Interfering with arrests is charged as a Class A misdemeanor of obstruction of governmental administration and is punishable by up to one year in jail.