Journalists’ Groups Protest RNC Ban on Gas Masks, Bags

By Mark Joyella 

A coalition of journalists groups including the National Press Photographers’ Association, the Society of Professional Journalists and the Radio Television Digital News Association has sent a letter objecting to rules that limit journalists from carrying bags–and gas masks–while covering the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

“It is understandable that the list of prohibited items in both cities contain items that may be used as offensive weapons or may pose a threat to public safety; but we believe that those news organizations wishing to protect their employees and individuals desiring to protect themselves from exposure to airborne chemical agents while covering the news should be allowed to do so. Additionally, the ban on backpacks and bags exceeding the size of 18″ x 13″ x 7″ fails to take into account the amount of gear carried by journalists.”

Many news organizations have issued gas masks to crews working in Cleveland this week in the expectation of protests. “They have equipment, gas masks, security,” Fox News’ Bret Baier told CBS’ The Late Show host Stephen Colbert last week. Security, he said, is “a serious concern.”