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Charges Against Occupy Photographer to Be Dropped

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A local freelance photographer arrested while taking pictures of the Occupy Richmond protest downtown has agreed to perform community service. In exchange, he says, prosecutors say they'll recommend that his case be dismissed.

Tracy Thorne-Begland of the Richmond Commonwealth Attorney's Office says the photographer, Ian Graham, first must complete 50 hours of community service.

The seeming resolution of the case brings to an end one of the lingering threads from last year's Occupy Richmond protests. Graham was one of nine people arrested in the early morning hours of Oct. 31 while Richmond police forcibly removed the encamped protestors from Kanawha Plaza.

Graham's case drew added attention because he wasn't one of the protesters. On assignment, he said, he was taking photos when police ordered him to stay within an area designated for media. But he left the area after finding his view obstructed. He was handcuffed after walking into a crosswalk to get a clearer view.

Prosecutors charged Graham with trespassing, a class-one misdemeanor punishable by as much as 12 months in jail and a $2,500 fine. His arrest was among a spate of incidents nationwide, in which reporters were arrested while covering similar protests.

Graham declines to comment, citing the pending agreement with prosecutors.

Others aren't shy. "Ian was arrested for trespassing in a public way, which is almost an oxymoron," says Paul Fletcher, president of the Virginia chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. The group was one of a handful that came to Graham's defense in the days following his arrest. "We continue to urge all journalists in the state to assert their right to cover news events, especially those in public places," he says.

Graham's next court hearing is scheduled for May 4.

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