Josh Wolf wins award; would probably prefer his fredom after 214 days in jail

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(Freelance journalist and anarchist Josh Wolf has refused to turn over videotapes of a protest being investigated by a federal grand jury. Online Journalism Review has written about his case; you can read more in Wikipedia. In December I promised to write about his case every Friday until he is freed. Spread the word. – Tom Abate aka MiniMediaGuy).

American Journalism Review has published a lovely portrait of Josh Wolf and his mother, Liz Wolf Spada, who is described as “an elementary school teacher with cropped gray hair who speaks in the earnest, optimistic tones of someone who spends a lot of time with young children.”

The AJR article, written by Dana Hull, a San Jose Mercury News reporter, concludes with a phone interview (prison officials would not allow a face to face visit):

“I’ve become more resolved in a few key points,” says Wolf . . .  ”I want to go to graduate school for journalism and get a better understanding of the history of journalism. And the issue of prison communication is very neglected within the entire justice system.” He’s embarked on a new project, PrisonBlogs.Net, which seeks to “provide prisoners with a voice, a public, and the sense of empowerment and the restored dignity this brings” by publishing their writing and art. Says Wolf: “I’ve got an exit plan.”

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Meanwhile, Josh will receive the Newpaper Guild’s Herbert Block Freedom Award. It comes with a $5,000 prize. The Guild press release says:

“Wolf, a San Francisco freelance journalist . . . has been held in federal prison since August 2006 for refusing to turn over video he shot of a July 8, 2005, demonstration in San Francisco. Federal prosecutors looking into possible crimes committed during the protest called Wolf before a federal grand jury in February 2006. He was initially jailed in August, freed for a short period during an appeal and was returned to prison on Sept. 22, 2006, where he remains. His attorney has stated that the video Wolf shot does not depict the crimes being investigated, but does include interviews with some of the protestors who spoke on the condition that their identities would be protected. Wolf continues to appeal the ruling.” 

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Hope continues that new U.S. Attorney Steve Schools will take a fresh look at Wolf’s case. If you have not already done so, write him. Keep a level tone. It’s hard for people to focus on your words when you’re hurling verbal insults. Here are the addresses:

By snail mail: The Honorable Scott Schools, United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California, 450 Golden Gate Avenue, 11th Floor, San Francisco, California 94102-3495
By email, send it to his assistant: natalya.labauve@usdoj.gov and she will refer it.