The National Association of Black Journalists has labeled the harassment arrest of a News and Observer reporter in Raleigh, N.C., an “apparent abuse of judicial and police authority.” Reporter Demorris Lee, 36, was arrested Sunday for leaving two telephone messages at the home of Ruth A. Brown. Lee was investigating the controversial conviction of a Durham teenager three years ago. Brown, a Durham police employee, had testified against the teen at his trial.
Brown filed a complaint with a Wake County magistrate on Oct. 22, claiming the phone calls were harassment. But Lee wasn’t arrested until Sunday, a few days after he filed a public records request with the police department. “By all accounts, Demorris was just doing his job as a journalist,” said NABJ President Herbert Lowe, a courts reporter at Newsday. The association called for an independent investigation. In a statement, reporter Lee said, “The fact that I can be arrested for doing my job … that could be any of us.”