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Raleigh protest charges dismissed against Observer reporter

Charges of second-degree trespass and failure to disperse against Charlotte Observer religion reporter Tim Funk have been dropped by the Wake County District Attorney’s Office.

Funk, 58, was arrested June 10 at the statehouse in Raleigh. He was interviewing Charlotte clergy who were demonstrating at a “Moral Monday” protest after Jeff Weaver, chief of the N.C. General Assembly Police, warned demonstrators to move away or risk arrest.

“This is clearly the right result, and we congratulate the district attorney for making the right decision,” said Rick Thames, editor of the Observer. “Tim Funk was working as a journalist inside the most obvious public building in our state.

“The videotape of Tim’s arrest demonstrates clearly that his only purpose in being there was to provide our readers a vivid firsthand account. He was clearly not obstructing the police. It’s hard to understand why he was arrested in the first place.”

Funk said in a statement he thought the dismissal was correct. “It was clear to everyone there that I was a news reporter just doing my job interviewing Charlotte-area clergy about how they felt about being arrested. The reporter’s job is to be the eyes and ears of the public who can’t be present at important public events like this protest. That’s all I was doing.”

Funk, a 28-year Observer veteran who began his Observer career in the mid-’80s covering government from the newspaper’s Raleigh bureau, was one of 924 people arrested during Moral Monday protests at the statehouse during this year’s legislative session.

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