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Reporter arrested while covering hit-and-run accident

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    NMU         WISCONSIN         Press at Home & Abroad         Dec 20, 1999    

Reporter arrested while covering hit-and-run accident

  • A newspaper photographer who was taking pictures at the scene of an accident is the second Milwaukee reporter recently arrested and detained while gathering news.

In early December, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel photographer Jeffrey Phelps was arrested by Milwaukee police while taking photographs at the scene of a hit-and-run accident.

This incident follows an earlier incident in which Milwaukee police arrested reporters. In August, Jamaal Abdul-Alim, an African American general assignment reporter for the Journal Sentinel, was arrested by Milwaukee police while conducting interviews in an area notorious for disruptive cruising by African Americans.

In both cases, the journalists were held by the police upon arrest — Phelps was held for about 30 minutes and Abdul-Alim for four hours, according to Editor and Publisher.

The Journal Sentinel has filed a claim with the city for $50,000 in damages on behalf of Abdul-Alim and is considering filing a claim in the Phelps case.

Journal Sentinel Editor Martin Kaiser explained to Editor and Publisher that the Milwaukee police are interfering with journalists’ ability to inform the public. However, the Milwaukee police department said it has not changed its media access policy to police scenes and that journalists have access “wherever the public is,” reports Editor and Publisher.

© 1999 The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

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