A still from the Facebook Live video Alexei Wood posted to his public profile 'Lex Shoots' on inauguration da January 20, 2016.
A still from the Facebook Live video Alexei Wood posted to his public profile 'Lex Shoots' on Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, 2016. Credit: Facebook / Lex Shoots

A San Antonio-based photographer standing trial on charges stemming from his arrest during protests on the day of President Donald Trump’s inauguration had contacted the Rivard Report pitching freelance coverage of the inauguration protests in Washington.

The Rivard Report did not assign him work, Editor-in-Chief Beth Frerking said Tuesday.

The HuffPost reported late Monday that emails from the defendant, Alexei Wood, to the Rivard Report were presented in D.C. Superior Court on Monday during his trial, and that of five other co-defendants, on felony rioting charges. In the emails, Wood sought work photographing protests surrounding the inauguration.

Although she did not join the publication until late September of this year, Frerking said she reviewed Wood’s emails to Rivard Report editors from last January in which he proposed covering the inauguration. “The editors considered his pitches, but ultimately did not utilize him as a freelancer or use any of his work from the inauguration protests,” she said.

Like most news organizations, the Rivard Report routinely receives pitches from freelance journalists and photographers seeking assignments and offering story ideas. The Rivard Report, a nonprofit news organization, had published photographs taken by Wood on two occasions during 2016. The images appeared in two separate stories about San Antonio’s music scene and were unrelated to the inauguration. Wood contributed four courtesy photos, a term used in journalism when someone provides images for free. The Rivard Report did not solicit or compensate Wood for those photo submissions, Frerking said.

Wood was arrested Jan. 20 along with more than 200 other people, including some journalists, during an Inauguration Day protest that turned violent. He has pleaded not guilty to charges of felony rioting, conspiracy, and destruction of property.

Part of the testimony during the trial has pertained to whether Wood was present at the protest as a member of the press. His Facebook livestream of the protests, which began as a march through the streets of downtown D.C., was shown in court, according to a HuffPost report published on Dec. 6. The video appeared to show some demonstrators smashing the windows of a limousine, spray-painting slogans on buildings, and damaging parking meters.

Prosecutors have argued that Wood was not a member of the press. According to the HuffPost report, Wood’s attorney, Brett Cohen, cited the emails to the Rivard Report to support the defense’s contention that Wood was working as a journalist during the demonstrations.

A court spokeswoman said the case was expected to go to the jury later this week. Cohen did not respond to the Rivard Report’s request for comment in time for publication.

Wendy Lane Cook

Wendy Lane Cook is the deputy managing editor at San Antonio Report. Contact her at wendy@sareport.org.