|News Media Update
Journalists detained at Republican convention
- At least five journalists have been detained by police during protests at the Republican National Convention in New York City; some were released once they established to police they were journalists.
Sep. 1, 2004 — Since Sunday, at least five journalists covering the convention and protests have been detained by police in the first days of the Republican National Convention in New York City. A hotline established by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press to assist journalists during the convention helped some of them to gain release within a few hours.
The law firm of Levine Sullivan Koch & Schulz volunteered to staff the 24-hour hotline, and is coordinating with a number of volunteer attorneys from other law firms to provide cost-free assistance to credentialed journalists at the convention.
Associated Press photo runner Jeannette Warner was detained Tuesday when police closed an entire block containing about 100 protesters marching to the convention from the site of the World Trade Center and arrested everyone in the block, whether protesting or not. The AP photographer with Warner was also detained but was promptly released upon displaying official NYPD credentials.
Because Warner did not have credentials she was taken to Pier 57, where police have established a temporary processing center. Hotline attorney Halimah DeLaine was 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 hours.
Newsday photographer Moises Saman was detained by New York City police Sunday while covering protesters at the convention. He was grabbed from behind and thrown to the ground while photographing arrests.
Stephanie Abrutyn, an attorney for Newsday, was alerted to Saman’s arrest by other journalists and contacted police. By the time Saman arrived at Pier 57, police already knew about him and let him go. He then hailed a cab back to return to covering the convention. He was held for about two hours.
According to hotline attorney Alia Smith, an Ohio journalist was also detained and released at the same time as Saman.
Jennifer Whitney, a reporter with Internet news service Narco News Bulletin , was detained Tuesday night while covering a protest by the Infernal Noise Brigade marching band. According to her attorney, Ronald Kuby, she does not have convention press credentials so police are processing her at Pier 57 along with protesters. Kuby does not expect her to be released before Wednesday night.
Freelance journalist Medea Benjamin of San Francisco, who entered the convention using press credentials but chose to protest, was detained for refusing to leave a restricted area. She was waving a sign and yelling inside the convention, a few yards from Vice President Dick Cheney, on Tuesday. She told the Associated Press that she was questioned for several hours in a basement security room and then released.
Although not journalists, actress Rosario Dawson and director Stephen Marshall were arrested while filming a movie called “This Revolution” near protests Sunday. Dawson, who was wearing a handkerchief as a mask, was ordered by police to leave the road, but refused. Marshall attempted to show police a city film permit, but both were arrested. They were both charged with disorderly conduct and obstructing governmental administration, and released without bail.
A similar hotline was established by the Reporters Committee at the Democratic National Convention in Boston in July. No reporters were detained at the Democratic convention.
© 2004 The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press