STATEMENT
REGARDING THE PASSING OF WYOMA BEST

CONTACT:
Richard J. McCollough
President
Rochester Association of Black Journalists
(585) 442-3728
rmccollo@gmail.com
  
Wyoma Best, Rochester's first African-American woman television reporter, passed away Friday evening.

On behalf of the Rochester Association of Black Journalists we are sad to hear the news of one of our great mentors. Wyoma was a highly skilled broadcast journalist most will remember her on the air at News 10 NBC in the 1970s.

RABJ started the Wyoma Best Scholarship in 2005 to help aspiring High School students study journalism. Wyoma will be missed, but her legacy will endure.
A memorial service will be held on Saturday, September 2 at 10:00 a.m. at Genesee Baptist Church, 149 Brooks Avenue in Rochester. 

STATEMENT
REGARDING DETENTION OF TWO BLACK JOURNALISTS AT BLACK LIVES MATTER RALLY

CONTACT:
Richard J. McCollough
President
Rochester Association of Black Journalists
(585) 442-3728
rmccollo@gmail.com
  
  
The Rochester Association of Black Journalists (RABJ) champions the First Amendment and also advocates for diversity in news gathering and reporting.

Thus we were deeply disturbed when two African-American reporters at 13WHAM, Justin Carter and Carlet Cleare, were handcuffed and detained by police on July, 8, 2016, as they were reporting on a local Black Lives Matter protest. Our colleagues were there guaranteeing citizens' First Amendment right to get information on public affairs through a free press.

The arrest of our two colleagues could clearly be interpreted by many as indication of an implicit bias by police against African Americans, as several other non African-American journalists were neither arrested nor handcuffed nor detained and still allowed to continue carrying out their reporting activities.

This is a sad and unfortunate irony, as our two colleagues were precisely there, to cover reports of widespread implicit bias on the part of police. The fact that they were placed in handcuffs and detained nearly confirms and underscores such bias.

Both the mayor and Rochester Police Department have reached out to 13WHAM and Mr. Carter and Ms. Cleare to express their deepest apologies for their detention. The city has also said it regrets that officers had difficulty distinguishing between onlookers capturing images on Smartphones and journalists using these devices to report live on the demonstrations and police actions, which are activities protected by the First Amendment.

RABJ proposes another Community Conversation event in which members of the community, the police department, the Mayor’s office, city council and news media come together. This event would delve into ways police, the media and people of color can work together to de-escalate volatile situations like we saw a few days ago. We think an open and free discussion of community concerns would well serve everybody in the long run.

RABJ is an advocacy organization that represents people of color in the media. For more information go to www.rabjournalists.org