Arrest of Stanford student journalist covering barricaded pro-Palestinian protest gets pushback

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

STANFORD, Calif. (KGO) — When pro-Palestinian protesters occupied the office of Stanford’s president, a student journalist followed them inside.

That student reporter did what journalists do–documented the news as it happened.

However, the journalist could now face criminal charges. His attorney and free speech organizations are pushing back.

“His job was to report. He had no criminal intent,” said Nick Rowley, the attorney representing Stanford student Dilan Gohill.

Police arrested the 19-year-old freshman on June 5 as he was covering a protest for the school newspaper, the Stanford Daily.

RELATED: Stanford students arrested for barricading in president’s office, allegedly leaving ‘vile’ graffiti

A group of pro-Palestinian protesters have been arrested after barricading in the Stanford University president’s office Wednesday morning.

Police say a dozen pro-Palestinian protesters barricaded themselves inside the university president’s office and did extensive damage.

The protesters were arrested and booked on suspicion of felony burglary, vandalism and conspiracy.

Gohill, who was reporting and wearing his press badge at the time, could also face charges.

“Charges have not been filed. But Stanford is pushing to have charges filed against him, which is wrong. It’s unethical. It’s unconstitutional,” Rowley said.

On Thursday, the First Amendment Coalition based in San Rafael, along with two dozen journalism groups sent a letter to Santa Clara District Attorney Jeff Rosen, asking him not to prosecute the student journalist.

MORE: Hundreds of pro-Palestinian protesters walk out of Stanford University commencement ceremony

“It was clear that Mr. Gohill was there at the scene to cover the news. There’ s no evidence he was there conspiring with any of the protesters or that he was there for any other reason other than to report the news,” said David Snyder with First Amendment Coalition.

ABC7 News reached out to Stanford University for comment but did not hear back. In a statement previously released, the university said:

“We believe that the daily reporter reporting from inside the building acted in violation of the law and university policies.”

The DA’s office says it has not received the case yet and cannot comment.

Gohill’s attorney says this case is straight forward.

“Dilan didn’t do anything wrong. He didn’t vandalize anything. The protesters, they may have committed crimes. That’s for a jury to decide they had the intent. They wanted to barricade themselves in. This is a young reporter who got stuck in the middle of it all–trying his best to ethically do his job. He didn’t do anything of those things,” Rowley said.

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.