Anti-Censorship and Pro-Julian Assange Rally Knocks on DC-based Media’s Front Door
Free speech advocates from around the country gathered in Washington D.C. for a dual-demonstration that challenged corporate media and censorship, as well as the continued persecution of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
Activists and advocates accompanied free speech organizations Action 4 Assange and The Convo Couch in Washington D.C. on March 17. The independent media groups and their allies marched across D.C. in solidarity with imprisoned journalist Julian Assange. Demonstrators protested in defense of numerous independent journalists and media personalities who have experienced censorship and pushback from Silicon Valley in recent months.
Among the roughly 50 activists in attendance were several well-known independent journalists and media members; including organizers Fiorella Isabel, Pasta Jardula, and Misty Winston.
Also in attendance was independent news videographer Ford Fischer. Fischer is one of the leading raw footage journalists in the business today. His YouTube page, News2Share, was recently demonetized by YouTube. The company reversed its decision soon after an article regarding the situation was published by Fox News on February 4.
Fischer, who typically does not offer personal opinions on the content he covers, told me that this circumstance was unique for him. He emphasized the role journalists play in battling censorship. Fischer also noted the ethical responsibility of journalists to detail any bias they may hold regarding their coverage.
Before I continue, I will disclose that I opposed both the imprisonment of Julian Assange and censorship.
The protest began at The Hall of States building on North Capitol Street. The initial stop on the procession is home to three top media outlets in the United States — Fox News, NBC, and C-SPAN.
Only a few yards away from barbed wire fences that still surround the Capitol Building, speakers and organizers kicked off the several-hour event with zeal and passion.
The day’s opening speaker, Andrew Zigmund, pointed out that corporate news sites had failed in covering the Assange trial and labeled them as complicit and silent.
Zigmund recognized that following WikiLeaks’ publication of evidence exposing war crimes committed by the United States in Iraq, only two people received any form of punishment: whistleblower Chelsea Manning and Assange. Manning and Assange have been victims of public smearing, imprisonment, spying, state-plotted murders, and torture.
I asked Zigmund about Merrick Garland, the newly appointed Attorney General. I was curious about what he thought about Garland potentially taking a more humane stance on the Assange extradition case. Zigmund explained that he did not believe that anyone appointed to the position would oppose the established commitment.
Assange received an official no extradition ruling in early January, but the Biden administration will appeal the decision.
Protestors then marched, accompanied by a police escort, to CNN’s office. Advocates yelled chants denouncing CNN and Fox News through the streets. Anti-extradition and pro-free speech shouts were also frequent.
About ten or so individuals addressed the crowd, including Isabel and Jardula.
Jardula was quoted: “If we don’t believe in freedom of speech for the people we despise, then we don’t believe in freedom of speech at all.”
While at CNN, activists expressed the need for independent voices in the media, the dangers of Silicon Valley censorship of dissenting voices, and negligent and partisan reporting within the corporate media ecosystem.
Following the stop at CNN, the protest continued through the streets until the group reached Google’s D.C. building. It was the final stop for the day. The event closed with heartfelt thanks from organizers and a concluding round of chants. A second demonstration occurred on March 18 at the Department of Justice. Newsdive was not present for day two.