Mannie Garcia, a photojournalist who earlier this year won a civil rights lawsuit resulting from his unlawful arrest by Montgomery County police in Maryland, has made a $5,000 donation to help support further advocacy for journalists.
The donation was made to the National Press Photographers Association through the National Press Photographers Foundation to support NPPA Legal Advocacy and Education. Mickey H. Osterreicher, NPPA general counsel, worked with Garcia and his lawyers on the lawsuit that argued Garcia’s First and Fourth Amendment rights were violated. Garcia was awarded $45,000 and Montgomery County was also ordered to pay legal fees.
“The Foundation salutes Mannie Garcia for standing up for the First Amendment. His support and commitment allows for continued legal advocacy by NPPA and NPPF,” said Thomas C. Hardin, president of the NPPF.
Garcia was arrested in 2011 while photographing police officers responding to a call on a public street in Wheaton, Maryland. Officers Christopher Malouf and Kevin Baxter physically detained Garcia who said he was put in a choke hold and repeatedly thrown to the ground.
Garcia was acquitted of disorderly conduct about six months later, but during that time had his White House credentials suspended because he had been charged with a crime, impeding his ability to work. Garcia, represented by the law firm of Davis Wright Tremaine, LLC with support from the NPPA, filed the civil rights violations suit in 2012.
“Mickey was instrumental in getting me to the right kind of lawyers,” Garcia said. “Mickey stuck by me.”
“Mannie and his lawyers should be commended for vigorously pursuing this case. It is unfortunate that another law enforcement agency had to learn the hard way to respect the Constitution at taxpayer’s expense,” Osterreicher said when the suit was settled.
Garcia said that money was never the purpose of the suit and that the victory was that Montgomery County changed policy and adopted a training bulletin addressing citizens videotaping police activities.
“We won something because it did get a policy change,” Garcia said.
Garcia also said that as an independent photographer, the support from NPPA was invaluable.
“I think that as a freelancer, NPPA is great. I don’t have a big corporation behind me,” Garcia said. “We need NPPA.”
The donation was arranged through NPPF, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization charged with advancing photojournalism through education and awarding scholarships and fellowships to deserving individuals who have demonstrated ability or promise in the field of visual journalism. This coming year, NPPF will award eight $2,000 scholarships.
The foundation is also accepting for the first time tax-deductible donations to support NPPA’s legal advocacy and education and the overall NPPA programs. You can learn more and donate at the NPPF website.