Photographer covering NATO summit protests arrested; another allegedly injured by police and five journalists reportedly detained

Emily Miller | Newsgathering | News | May 21, 2012

One photographer was arrested Sunday night while covering the protests outside the NATO summit in Chicago. Another photographer was reportedly hit by police with a baton and five journalists were allegedly detained, but released on the spot.

Getty Images freelance photographer Joshua Lott was initially charged with a felony charge of mob action, which was reduced to reckless conduct. A photographer working with Lott contacted a hotline set up by The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press in conjunction with the Chicago law firm Mandell Menkes. Volunteer attorney Steve Mandell represented Lott who was released at 4 a.m. Monday.

Although Lott is the only journalist known to have been arrested while covering NATO protests, other journalists also had encounters with the Chicago Police Department.

According to news reports, Getty Images photographer Scott Olson was hit on the head by police with a baton. A photo of Olson posted on a number of news sites shows blood dripping down the right side of his head. The Chicago Police Department could not be reached to confirm the incident and it wasn't clear if Olson was arrested.

Independent journalist Tim Pool, along with four others covering the protest, were detained and interrogated late Saturday night after leaving the NATO summit protests, according to Pool who tweeted about the incident.

Pool, who streams live footage of protests on UStream.com, has been covering the NATO protests since Thursday. Some of his past videos have been used as evidence in court cases.

Pool and his group were stopped at a stop sign around 10:30 p.m. Saturday when six police cars surrounded their vehicle, Pool said.

“They came at us yelling, ‘Hands. Put your fucking hands up,” he said. “They didn’t beat us, but they came at us screaming, cursing, with guns drawn.”

Police then put them in handcuffs, took their licenses and began to search the car.

Before Pool was removed from the car, he started to record the incident on his cell phone, which he then placed on top of his bag. When the bag and cell phone fell to the ground during the commotion, a police officer covered the device, but the device continued to record audio, according to Pool.

The Chicago Police Department could not be reached for comment or to confirm the incident.

Luke Rudkowiski, who said he has NATO press credentials, was also one of the five detained. He recorded the 10-minute exchange on his cell phone before police confiscated his phone, stopped the recording and erased the footage, according to Pool.

Rudkowiski is the founder of We Are Change, a nonpartisan, independent media organization made up of individuals and groups working to expose corruption, according to its website.

Pool said police also took hard drives and batteries from the vehicle and banged the items against the doors, destroying the materials.

It was not until after the individuals were released from handcuffs that a supervisor told Pool they were being detained because their vehicle matched the description of a car that police were searching for, Pool said. He added that they were traveling in a black vehicle with a New Mexico license plate.

“As soon as they said they made a mistake, they should’ve apologized and left,” Pool said, “but they kept searching the car.”

Pool said he feels targeted.

“It’s freaky as hell, but it’s not going to stop what we’re doing,” he said.