Photojournalist at center of Atlanta lawsuit speaks

This week attorneys for a photojournalist arrested while covering a protest in June 2020 announced they had settled a lawsuit with the city of Atlanta.

Sharif Hassan is a freelance photographer who has covered demonstrations all over the world. He said "conflict photography" is his passion.

He was photographing a Black Lives Matter demonstration after the death of George Floyd when a 9 p.m. city curfew went into effect.

"Everything was fine, and then all of a sudden, there was a rush of like five police officers running toward a gentleman and a woman," Hassan recalled. "I started running after them ,and just photographing what was happening at the time, and then next thing I know, there was an officer on top of me pushing me down, and pinning me to the ground, and then I was escorted to jail."

Hassan was charged with violating curfew, despite identifying himself to officers as a working journalist.

The First Amendment Clinic at the University of Georgia's School of law, along with attorneys Gerry Weber and L. Burton Finlayson, announced this week they reached a settlement with the city of Atlanta.


The agreement includes a provision that the city should consider specific language outlining exemptions for working journalists and essential workers in any future curfew orders.

"There's a lot that was left unclear those days of the curfew," said Hassan. "So, I think having that moving forward, and having these incident happen, so these mistakes don't happen moving forward, I think is super important, and that was my main focus on this case."

Hassan said the majority of the $105,000 went to the legal team, which will continue to fight for the rights of journalists.

"Unfortunately, it happens, and we just have to be vocal about it, as opposed to just like, letting it happen, and just like moving forward, and I think that's the most important part, is just being vocal, and being a part of those protests in this manner, is just as important as being on the picket line," said Hassan.