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Photojournalist Jailed During Last Year’s Protests Sues City of Atlanta and APD

On June 1, 2020, during ongoing protests for Black lives in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd, photojournalist Sharif Hassan was filming a protester’s arrest when APD officers stopped him and arrested him, ignoring the fact that he was there doing his job. He was charged with a curfew violation and jailed overnight at the Atlanta City Detention Center.

While other members of the press at the protests were permitted to continue their work, Mr. Hassan, who is Muslim and Arab-American, was forced to spend the night in handcuffs, preventing prayer or sleep. Two memory cards with his photographs of the protests were never returned to him.

The City of Atlanta continued to prosecute him until the charges were finally dropped in January 2021, after his attorneys filed a motion asserting his free speech and press rights. Today, Mr. Hassan’s attorneys at the law offices of Gerry Weber and L. Burton Finlayson and the UGA School of Law First Amendment Clinic filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the City of Atlanta and its officers.

“Through mass arrests of those exercising their First Amendment rights, the City of Atlanta has continually violated its citizens’ constitutional rights. Mr. Hassan’s arrest & treatment are one particularly severe manifestation of the ongoing crisis of criminalizing protest and protesters in Atlanta.” -SCHR Community Engagement and Movement Building Counsel Tiffany Williams Roberts