Troubled Journalist Honored at Fundraiser
September 22, 2006 3:29 AM
Hours before his scheduled return to jail, freelance journalist Josh Wolf joined politicians, journalists and other activists at a fundraiser in San Francisco Thursday night.
The “Free the Media” event at the Crash Club in the Tenderloin raised funds for the Rise Up Network legal fund, providing support for freelance journalists. However, it was as much an evening of revelry, with live music and drinks, as it was a statement against the government’s prosecution of journalists.
“I just met Josh for the first time tonight,” said Bruce Brugman, editor and publisher of the SF Bay Guardian. “I can’t understand why this guy is so dangerous.”
Wolf is scheduled to return to the Federal Correctional Institute in Dublin Friday afternoon after refusing to cooperate with a federal investigation involving the alleged vandalism of a police car during an anti-globalization rally last year.
He would have been at the correctional facility at the time of the fundraiser, if not for a 48-hour reprieve from the courts.
Wolf told his supporters that the situation was bigger than him.
“Maybe this fight won’t win in the courts,” Wolf said, “but now, hundreds of thousands know about this.”
Brugman noted that Wolf was going to prison at the same time San Francisco Chronicle reporters Lance Williams and Mark Fainaru-Wada were ordered to serve time for not revealing the source of grand jury testimony for their book “Game of Shadows,” about baseball’s steroid scandal.
“I can’t think of any city that has three reporters in jail, or facing jail,” Brugman said. “Why the hell is that?”
Sarah Olson, a writer for truthout.org, told the crowd of her own potential legal trouble. Her interview with Army First Lt. Ehren Watada, who faces up to eight and a half years in prison for refusing to fight in Iraq, has prompted the Army to ask for her testimony against Watada, though no subpoena has been issued yet. Five of those years, Olson said, would be as a result of her interviews.
“I’ve decided, and I will, be resisting in whatever ways possible,” Olson said to the cheering group.
San Francisco Supervisors Ross Mirkarimi and Chris Daly, who co-authored a resolution in support of Wolf, also spoke at the rally.
Mirkarimi was emotional at times as he lashed out at the response to Wolf’s prosecution.
“This issue is not just about Josh Wolf,” he said. “This is about the complete unraveling of everything that makes this country great.”
Daly said Wolf’s legal troubles were as much a battle to grow a progressive movement as it was for freedom of the press.
“If our friend Josh Wolf has to go back to the hopper to get us a little more on fire, then you got to respect this brother,” Daly said. “You got to give mad props to this brother.”
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