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You've Got to be Kidding: Arrested for being in Public


"ATLANTA -- A CBS 46 News photographer and reporter were arrested Friday afternoon at Atlanta City Hall while doing a story.

"Photographer Jeff Thorn and reporter Renee Starzyk were handcuffed in the city hall lobby, public property, while doing an ongoing story on water rates.

"While they were not booked and charged, they were detained for over an hour while investigators realized they had done nothing wrong.

"City hall is closed on Fridays, but you can go there to pay your water bill.

"CBS 46 News wanted to catch up with customers who had billing problems, a story we broke earlier this week.

"Just as the public could go through, Thorn and Starzyk were allowed through security at city hall and began videotaping people paying their water bills.

"The officer who let them in then told them to stop.

"They asked why they could not shoot video in a public area.

"'I need you to leave,' said Officer E.R. Murray.

"They made a few phone calls demanding to know why police were throwing them out.

"Thorn and Starzyk moved out of the water department area and began shooting video in the lobby, also a public area.

"'You're in a secure area. You need to go outside,' said Murray.

"Officer Murray then grabbed the camera.

"'Renee, grab my camera or he's going to break it,' said Thorn.

"'What have we done wrong officer,' asked Starzyk.

"Officer Murray replied, 'Obstruction.'

"Officer Murray slapped handcuffs on both of them and told them that they were under arrest, and for no apparent reason.

"They were in an area open to the public and as the law says and the city's legal office told the police, if the public has a right to be there CBS 46 News has a right to be there.

"They sat in handcuffs for at least an hour as city hall and Atlanta police tried to figure out what to do next.

"Finally, the cuffs were taken off and they were issued an apology from the police department and the mayor's office.

"'It’s a terrible misunderstanding. We apologize. We will resolve this matter with our staff. Where the public goes the media can go,' said Chief of Staff Greg Pridgeon.

"Despite arresting Starzyk and Thorn, the police department also agreed they did nothing wrong.

"Atlanta police tell CBS 46 News they are investigating what happened to Thorn and Starzyk.

"If the officer or officers involved did violate the law, we're told disciplinary action could be taken.

"That could range from a verbal or written warning to something more serious. Police wouldn't say.

"CBS 46 News is committed to asking the tough questions and we will continue doing so despite this event."

While it is kind of funny that the reporters got harassed a little, this one statement really gets me: "If the officer or officers involved did violate the law, we're told disciplinary action could be taken." Could be? COULD be? What the hell? If the officer or officers violated the law, disciplinary action should/shall/will/etc. be taken. That's messed up.

1 comment:

  1. Unreal! I have a friend who is a photographer for a local station. The stories he tells me...


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