We’re pleased that the criminal charges against this newspaper’s senior writer, Tomas Murawski, were dismissed Wednesday by the district attorney’s office.
Murawski and this newspaper’s publisher had been covering the march and demonstration on Halloween day last year when Murawski was, inexplicably, arrested by the Graham police.
The original police allegation against him was that he had not gotten out of the Court Square roadway soon enough after Graham police told protesters to vacate the area so that the traffic circle could re-open.
Murawski had just taken a photograph of the first arrest of a protester when he, himself, was arrested.
The subsequent charge actually filed was for delaying, resisting, and obstructing a police officer, because he allegedly pulled away from the arresting officer. [Video footage taken by another media outlet, however, confirms his disavowal that he had resisted in any way.] At most, he’s clearly trying to be certain the officers are careful with the camera they confiscated from him as they’re making the arrest.
The protester whose photo Murawski had taken was also charged with resisting arrest, and that charge was dismissed two months ago.
It is an uncomfortable situation, to say the least, when this newspaper and its senior reporter are waiting for almost seven months to find out the outcome of a case in which we were confident he had been unfairly charged.
We would have hoped Graham police would have known better than to interfere with a reporter who was only doing his job by covering the very significant event. (The event would become even more significant after his arrest, when 21 additional people were arrested.)
He wasn’t doing anything more than taking photographs. And as anyone who knows him could attest, he is a thoroughly respectful and professional reporter.
This newspaper has a long, uninterrupted history of pursuing local news doggedly.
Murawski joins a pantheon of Alamance News reporters – including both father and son publishers of this newspaper – who have been arrested in the course of trying to provide news coverage over the past 65 years.
Like those before him (Tom Boney found not guilty, Tom Boney, Jr.’s case dismissed) Murawski was ultimately found not to have violated any law in the course of simply attempting to cover the news, in this case a protest march down Main Street and the subsequent rally at the Historic Court House.
We thank national press, journalism, and other organizations that have come to the rhetorical defense of the First Amendment and its implementation by this newspaper in Graham.
And most of all, we thank our readers who were both supportive and grateful for our ongoing efforts to provide fair, accurate, and comprehensive news coverage – without fear or favor.