When Forest Service agents broke up a logging blockade several months ago at Oregon's Warner Creek, they arrested five protesters plus two journalists from the Eugene Register Guard who were caught in the fray. Although no charges were ever filed against the journalists, the newspaper has now sued the Forest Service, citing violations of constitutional rights and an Oregon state law that protects journalists' sources.
"We're not going to stop covering forest
protests," says Jim Godbold, the newspaper's managing editor, "and
we don't expect to be arrested for doing our jobs."
The news staffers were hiking down a hillside to
observe the arrests when the agents cited and handcuffed them, says
Godbold. Then they spent three hours in jail while the agents
confiscated their notes and film, which, after copying, they
returned three days later. Godbold says the lawsuit also questions
whether the Forest Service needed to block off nearly five square
miles of public land to clear the logging
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jim Sutherland says
the Justice Department has filed a motion to dismiss the case.
Forest officials declined to comment.