Posts Tagged 'police raid'

Photographers’ Rights Progress

Two positive developments today for photographers’/media rights:

• ŸThe City of Toledo will pay an undisclosed settlement and change their media policies in response to a civil rights lawsuit brought by two photographers. Jeffrey Sauger and Jim West were arrested in 2005 while covering a Nazi rally and counter-protest. Their lawyer noted that it’s very rare for a police department to revise its policies in response to a civil rights lawsuit, so it was a significant win.

The photographers agreed to take a lesser monetary settlement in exchange for the policy change, which: says that the police must recognize all legitimate media at public events, dictates how officers interact with media, and establishes that police are prohibited from erasing any images on media cameras. [National Press Photographers Association]

• In April, we posted on how Virginia state officials illegally stormed the newsroom of James Madison University’s student newspaper, The Daily Breeze, and seized photos relating to a party-turned-melee. After much outrage and legal action, the state has agreed to pay the school’s legal fees, totalling $10,000. The Commonwealth’s attorney, Marsha Garst, even admitted she was wrong in her approach and has committed to obtaining search warrants in the future. (Which, really, is not so much a concession as an avowal to follow the law. Duh.)

Frank LoMonte of the Student Press Law Center, said, “The fact that the government is going to have to pay $10,000 is a meaningful sting. That sting ought to send a message to anyone trying to cut corners on the Privacy Protection Act.” [Waynesboro News Virginian]

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

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