Screw getting Dooced, Josh Wolf has set the blogger bar a bit higher than getting fired. He's been jailed. Judge William Alsup, presiding over a federal grand jury case investigating the attempted burning of a police car and assault of an officer during an anti-war protest last year, has held Mr. Wolf in contempt of court, and ordered him imprisoned. The crime? Refusing to answer a subpoena from the U.S. Attorney's office for raw footage of the event and to stand witness before the Grand Jury.
The footage in question has been cursed practically since day one. We first met Josh snarking on Current TV, and then he tipped us to his edited piece [QuickTime] on his blog and IndyBay. Then it got picked up by Brian Shield's over at The Bay Area is Talking. IndyBay promptly jumped all over Shields regarding copyright. But KRON bought the footage, and aired it during the nightly newscast -- and it was promptly aired on all the other local affiliates. Josh did get paid, though, and eventually Josh quit his job working for Donald Fisher at the Gap to pursue journalism and activism.
In the mean time, the SFPD and, more importantly, the POA was calling for the pretty heads of the Blac Bloc kids who'd done it. Deputy Chief Greg Suhr was reassigned to PUC security after a reported breakdown in communication. But In a capricious legal slight-of-hand, the feds stepped in under the premise that, since the SFPD receives federal money, the attempt to burn the police car was in their jurisdiction. Alberto himself signed off on Wolf's subpoena.
What's important is that judge Alsup has created a precedent by which the act of media gathering is not a private affair. A reporter's raw footage, camera shots or notes could be revealed during a grand jury. Yes, Josh was friends with the protestors. And no, being a journalist does not place you above the law. But Josh has volunteered that the tapes contain no relevant evidence, and reporters are not just another arm of the criminal justice machine.
Of course, all of this is in the wake of a blogger on the lam and someone with a camphone was arrested for photographing police in action. While we're still drunk from the Apple v. Does victory, this news certainly gives us a blog hangover.
Lord almighty, Josh Wolf is a good kid, and we at SFist wish him the best of luck in the hoosegow. Every blogger owes him a beer and a hug upon his release.
Update: According to Josh's mother, Liz Wolf-Spada, Josh is being held in Dublin. We've contacted his legal team in the hopes of finding out how to contact him behind bars. In the meantime, please consider a donation to Josh's legal fund.
Photo by Steve Rhodes.