A new federal law could force newspapers, radio stations and social media to stop covering political protests.
The RICO statute, enacted in 1994, has long been considered a tool for cracking down on organized crime and criminals.
But in recent years, the law has become more broadly used as a tool to intimidate journalists and civil rights groups, especially after an FBI report found that police departments used the law to harass, intimidate and silence people who challenged police brutality.”RICO is a tool that is abused.
But I think it’s a tool used to keep the people who are working hard, to keep us safe,” said Michaela Cramer, president of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.
The new law would also allow police to stop journalists from recording protests in their jurisdictions.
The law is part of a larger crackdown on journalists in the wake of the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.
“There’s no question in my mind that RICO has been abused,” Cramer said.
“The use of the RICO tool, the way that it has been used, is absolutely a chilling tool.”
A few years ago, the Justice Department was able to obtain a search warrant for an investigation into whether CNN was violating the RIC Act by using the ROCA to obtain video recordings of a CNN event.
CNN eventually agreed to pay a $100,000 fine.
In the wake