Police Raid Campus Newspaper, Seize Photos

Photo by Harrisonburg Police Dept./AP

James Madison University’s student newspaper got quite the surprise Friday — and it wasn’t a tip on a meatloaf protest in the cafeteria. The Commonwealth’s Attorney Marsha Garst and six police officers raided The Breeze‘s offices with a search warrant to seize photos of an April 10 school melee.

The melee, which started as an off-campus party, got out of control and lasted for hours until police in riot gear broke it up, spraying tear gas and arresting 30 people in all. Breeze Editor in Chief Kate Thisdell said she thinks The Breeze was the only media outlet to have gotten photos of the incident, and when Garst asked for them last week, she declined.

Thisdell gave up the photos Friday only when Garst threatened to confiscate all the paper’s equipment. Garst justified her actions by saying the raid was to help them get “violent criminals off the streets.” But, as much as we agree that 20-year-olds throwing bottles of Miller Lite are a danger to society at large, what Garst did was illegal — and you know they wouldn’t be trying that with The Roanoke Times. Not a chance. But of course it’s much easier to bully a student newspaper.

As The Roanoke Times reports:

Frank LoMonte, executive director of the [Student Press Law Center in Arlington, VA], said in a statement that the search was likely a violation of the Privacy Protection Act, a “federal anti-newsroom search law” that generally makes it illegal for government officials to search news organizations without a subpoena.

The Breeze has gotten a lawyer and the photos have been temporarily sealed while they negotiate an agreement.

Article from The Roanoke Times and The Breeze

2 Responses to “Police Raid Campus Newspaper, Seize Photos”

  1. 1 campus girl June 21, 2010 at 11:37 pm

    thanks for the information. the photo you have here is quite good. thanks for sharing it.

  1. 1 Photographers’ Rights Progress « Trackback on June 2, 2010 at 2:56 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: