Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 2004/09/08

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Subject: [Leica] From Editor and Publisher: Reporters hasseled at RNC
From: KCassidy at (Kyle Cassidy)
Date: Wed Sep 8 09:29:03 2004

After my own scary experience of being detained by police for completely
inexplicable reasons, I wasn't surprised to see this. It only includes
incidents reported to the hotline (which I had no knowledge of) there was an
article in slate by an editor who was detained, and humorist Dave Barry of
Fla. was also detained.

Reporters' Legal Hotline Drew Nine Calls During GOP Convention

By Joe Strupp

Published: September 07, 2004 11:00 AM EDT

A special legal support hotline for reporters covering the Republican
National Convention, set up by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the
Press, received at least nine calls for help from journalists who were
arrested or detained at the event, the RCFP said Tuesday.

Although that may be considered low, since nearly 2,000 protesters were
arrested during the week, RCFP leaders contend it is significant, since a
similar hotline set up for the Democratic National Convention in Boston
prompted no calls. Reporters Committee leaders also received a number of
complaints from journalists about being hassled over credentials, especially
if they lacked New York City press passes.

"Despite assurances from New York City police that arrests of journalists
would be minimized, numerous credentialed and uncredentialed journalists
were detained during the Republican National Convention," the Reporters
Committee said in a statement. "Some for extended periods of time."

The hotline provided free legal assistance to journalists covering the
convention, as it had at every national political convention since 1976,
RCFP officials said. The hotline was staffed and co-sponsored by attorneys
from the law firm of Levine Sullivan Koch & Schulz, who coordinated with
volunteer attorneys from other firms.

According to hotline attorney Halimah DeLaine, the hotline received at least
nine calls between Friday, Aug. 27, when protesters began to arrive, and the
end of the convention on Thursday, Sept. 2. In contrast, hotlines
established at the Democratic National Convention in Boston and the 1992
Democratic convention in New York, the last time a presidential convention
was held in the city, received no reports of journalists being detained.

"Confusion, both by journalists and police, also arose over what credentials
would be accepted," RCFP said in the statement. "Journalists with NYPD
credentials were generally released immediately, while journalists with
Republican National Convention or other credentials were not."

RCFP officials added that some reporters with convention credentials only
were turned over to the Secret Service for verification. The Secret Service
then took the credentials, the group added, saying the journalists could get
new ones the next day, and returned the journalists to the NYPD without any
credentials to prove that they were journalists.

Among those who sought assistance via the hotline, according to RCFP, were;

* Newsday photographer Moises Saman, who was detained Aug. 29 while covering
protesters. Stephanie Abrutyn, a Newsday attorney who had attended hotline
training, contacted police and Saman was released when he arrived at Pier
57, a temporary processing center dubbed "Guantanamo on the Hudson" by
protesters. He was held for about two hours.

* A cameraman from WOWD TV News in Athens, Ohio, who was detained at the
same time as Saman, but was released without being sent to Pier 57. The
hotline was notified shortly before he was detained and contacted police,
who said they already knew about him and would release him.

* Associated Press photo runner Jeannette Warner, who was detained Aug. 31
when police closed an entire block of about 100 protesters. The AP
photographer with Warner was also detained but was released upon displaying
official NYPD credentials. Attorneys were able to secure Warner's release
and have the arrest voided, but only after obtaining a letter from AP's New
York bureau chief confirming Warner's status. Warner was held for about 12

* Another AP photo runner, Tim Kulick, who was detained at about 8 p.m. on
Aug. 31. Because he was a temporary employee, efforts to gain his release on
Wednesday were unsuccessful. Hotline attorney Alia Smith secured his release
at 6 a.m. on Sept. 2 after coming to an agreement that charges would be
dismissed after six months if Kulick has no further legal trouble.

* Annie Tritt, a photographer for the San Francisco Bay View , was stopped
Aug. 31 but released after telling police she was awaiting credentials from
the NYPD.

* Daniel Jones, a journalist with WRDR radio in New York with both
convention and NYPD credentials was stopped and searched Aug. 31. He was
detained by police and the Secret Service when he was found to have protest
schedules he had obtained from demonstrators that contained violent ant-Bush
statements. His credentials were taken and he was released after about three
and a half hours.

* Jennifer Whitney, a reporter with Internet news service Narco News
Bulletin , was detained Aug. 31 while covering. According to her attorney,
Ronald Kuby, she did not have convention press credentials and was sent for
processing at Pier 57 along with protesters. She was held until at least the
evening of Sept. 1.

* Nick Gehring and Beth Rankin, uncredentialed reporters from the Kent State
University Daily Kent Stater, were both detained Aug. 31. Gehring was
charged with disorderly conduct and released after about 22 hours. Hotline
attorney Jeff Drichta was able to get Rankin released at 3 a.m. on Sept. 2.

* Credentialed freelance photojournalist Geoffrey O'Connor was leaving his
office for the convention Tuesday evening when he spotted a protest and
started to film. He did not have his credentials with him and was detained.
He was released when his credentials were delivered and resumed filming. The
police officer who originally detained him again threatened to arrest him
and said he would have his company's credentials reviewed and revoked.

* Kelley Benjamin, a reporter with a Tampa, Fla. weekly, was arrested Aug.
31 and held until 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 2. Hotline attorneys were was unable to
get police to release her because of a lawsuit filed by the National Lawyers
Guild on behalf of all people held longer than 24 hours. Miller was in court
with NLG lawyers on Thursday when the city was fined $1,000 for each person
held longer than 24 hours and ordered to release them. Benjamin was ticketed
and released.

* Democracy Now reporter Daniel Cashin, who was detained on Sept. 1.
Attorneys secured his release later that evening and his arrest was voided.

Joe Strupp ( senior editor

Replies: Reply from michiel.fokkema at (Michiel Fokkema) ([Leica] From Editor and Publisher: Reporters hasseled at RNC)