A journalist in Texas, Priscilla Villarreal, wound up in jail for simply reporting on the police and Border Patrol.
You read that right: Villarreal was booked for simply doing her job reporting on issues in the state. Now a court case will determine if her First Amendment rights were violated -- but regardless of the court's outcome, the Texas legislature must act to protect journalists rights!Sign the petition now to demand that the Texas state legislature immediately protect the First Amendment and ensure that journalists are allowed to do their job! Villarreal was booked because she obtained information from the Laredo Police Department -- the same police department that would later jail her for it.
You see, according to a Texas law, if someone gets nonpublic info from a government official "with intent to obtain a benefit," they can be prosecuted.
But journalists, like everyone else, have to make money to survive -- their jobs are not only vital to the health and validity of a democracy, but of course are going to benefit them with certain levels of money, success, and stability. Based on this legal precedent, anyone who receives any benefit from journalism -- whether that be a paycheck from a magazine company or a free meal from a neighbor -- could go to jail. Let's be clear: despite the technicalities of the law, Villarreal was booked because she was asking the government questions, which is one of the most important rights a person can have in a true democracy.For a country that is obsessed with the idea of freedom, there is shockingly little protection for journalists to be free to report the truth.
We must protect the First Amendment and basic democratic principles by preserving the media's right to report critically on government officials, even -- and perhaps especially -- if that means seeking out nonpublic information. Sign now to demand the Texas state legislature protect the First Amendment and close this loophole, making an exception for journalists!