NEWS MEDIA UPDATE · ILLINOIS · Newsgathering · Feb. 21, 2007
Reporter arrested during homeless advocacy protest
Feb. 21, 2007 · A reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times was arrested by a hospital police sergeant on Thursday while trying to cover a protest organized by a homeless advocacy group.
Steve Patterson was waiting outside the office of Dr. Robert Simon, the director of Stroger Hospital in Chicago, hoping to get a comment from him when an unidentified police sergeant mistook him for a protestor, Patterson said in a first-hand account of the incident published in the Sun-Times.
The sergeant pushed Patterson, causing him to slip on water. He ignored Patterson’s press ID and his pleas that he was just a journalist trying to get a story, Patterson said.
The sergeant, who is a part of the 59-officer police force for the hospital, claimed that Patterson was chanting with the protestors and said he would be charged with trespassing because he did not have an appointment.
The police handcuffed Patterson and took him to a hospital lock-up.
“Through corridors and down hallways, past patients and doctors, I was escorted in handcuffs through the labyrinth of Stroger Hospital,” Patterson wrote.
While Patterson was being arrested, he was on the phone with county spokesman Steve Mayberry. Mayberry confirmed Patterson’s status as a reporter and he was soon released to a cheering crowd of protesters.
“A nice feeling, sure but my head was still spinning all the same,” Patterson wrote. “I was just cuffed for the first time in my life all because I was trying to convince them I was a reporter.”