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2012 NATO Summit Media Hotline

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  1. Newsgathering
(312) 251-1000 Sponsored by The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and Mandell Menkes. RCFP:  1101 Wilson Blvd., Suite…

• Carry with you, at all times, (1) your press credentials, if you have any, (2) a government issued photo I.D., and (3) cash and/or a credit card (to post bond).

• If you are detained, (1) comply with police orders; (2) identify yourself as a member of the press; (3) ask the arresting officer to notify a supervisor that a reporter is being detained; and (4) call the MEDIA HOTLINE.


The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press has arranged with a Chicago law firm to coordinate pro bono legal assistance to reporters covering the 2012 NATO Summit through a 24-hour hotline. Volunteer attorneys will be available to advise reporters who are arrested or experience other problems with law enforcement while covering the Summit, the political protests or related events.

The hotline will be in operation from Sunday, May 20, 2012 through Monday, May 21, 2012. The phone number is (312) 251-1000. If the number is not available due to high cellular traffic or any other reason during regular business hours you may call Steve Mandell at Mandell Menkes, (312) 251-1001; or Steve Baron at Mandell Menkes, (312) 251-1009. During other hours you may call Steve Mandell’s cell at (312) 215-1001 or Steve Baron’s cell at (312) 505-4452. You may also call the regular hotline operated by the Reporters Committee at (800) 336-4243. Mandell and Baron will be in Chicago to respond to calls during the summit.

BE PREPARED. Disturbances occurring at events like these in the past sometimes have resulted in mass arrests during which reporters have been taken into custody. The media hotline is part of the Reporters Committee’s effort to address problems experienced by reporters as a result of undue restrictions on access or while covering demonstrations and other events occurring in and around Chicago during the NATO Summit. This flier provides guidelines to follow in the event of a disturbance and provides our best information at the time it was prepared. This information is subject to change; for the most recent version, go to

Always carry with you two forms of identification: (1) your credential, police-issued press pass or other documentation of your status as a professional journalist, and (2) a government issued photo identification card. If you are detained without a government issued I.D., the police will hold you until you can be fingerprinted and positively identified, a process that can take several hours and makes you ineligible for immediate release on bond. Also carry cash with you (see “Arrest & Release” below).

Make it visually obvious you are a member of the press. Any journalist wearing a helmet during a protest should have the word “PRESS” prominently displayed on the helmet itself. Indeed, it is advisable to always wear a hat and/or shirt that displays the word “PRESS” prominently. If an event becomes the subject of law enforcement activity, the best way to avoid being arrested is to report on those activities in a manner that does not obstruct the law enforcement activity, and to follow all police orders. Do not walk through a police line without first showing your press pass and obtaining permission.

POLICE INFORMATION. The Secret Service, FBI, Department of Homeland Security, Chicago Police Department, Cook County Sheriff’s Office, Illinois State Patrol, and other law enforcement agencies will all be present in and around Summit-related locations, including McCormick Place and demonstration sites.

In the event of any incident between the media and the police, you should immediately call the media hotline.

ACCESS. Access to McCormick Place and other Summit-related sites, and particular areas within those sites, will be highly regulated.  Do not expect to be permitted to enter any areas inside or in the vicinity of the Summit sites or elsewhere that are closed by police for security reasons. And, again, do not walk through a police line without first showing your press pass and obtaining permission. Press credentials  may be recognized in some places but not others.

DETENTION. In the event police detain you during a disturbance, remain calm and obey instructions. In addition, (1) notify the arresting officer that you are a news reporter or photograher and show your credentials; (2) ask that a supervising officer be notified that a journalist is being detained; and (3) seek permission to call the media hotline attorney at your earliest opportunity. Local law enforcement agencies have advised their officers not to interfere with working journalists, provided the journalists do not commit separate infractions or interfere with police operations or safety. Identifying yourself as a news reporter or photojournalist may reduce the likelihood of arrest, and may facilitate your release if you are caught up in a mass arrest. If you are covering the activities of a crowd that invites arrest and want to avoid being arrested along with them, move to the periphery of the activity so you can readily detach yourself should that prove necessary.

ARREST & RELEASE. If you are arrested for disorderly conduct, unlawful assembly, disturbing the peace, failure to follow a police order, or any other non-felony infraction, the quickest way to get back onto the streets to continue reporting is to cooperate and post bond, assuming bond is necessary. You should be cooperative during this process, but remember that anything you say may be used against you.

Most of the charges you are likely to be arrested for will allow release on a signature bond, otherwise known as an I-Bond. Some other charges will require you to post $75.00 to $200.00. It is important you get a copy of the bond you have posted because the first court date information — where and when you must appear — will be on the bond slip. The police will give you a copy of the bond upon release.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION. When calling the media hotline, please identify yourself as a journalist and state that you are calling the media hotline. If you are taken into custody and unable to call the media hotline, try to inform a colleague, employer or somebody else and ask them to contact the hotline on your behalf. You should call the hotline at your earliest opportunity thereafter, however, as the volunteer attorneys can be of little, if any, assistance before speaking with you.

Steve Mandell and Steve Baron (Mandell Menkes LLC) will be glad to assist anyone who has a subsequent court appearance in finding an attorney or discussing possible representation, but representation at subsequent hearings is not part of the free hotline service.

The media hotline should not be used for disputes over credentials or problems unrelated to your news coverage of the Summit. As always, you may call the Reporters Committee’s regular hotline, (800) 336-4243, if you have other credentialing or access issues.

If you have any questions or comments about the media hotline, contact Steve Mandell or Steve Baron at (312) 251-1000; or Gregg Leslie, Legal Defense Director of the Reporters Committee, at (703) 807-2100.