Reporters arrested in Colorado, Pennsylvania while gathering news
ROUNDUP–Reporters were arrested in both Pennsylvania and Colorado while trying to cover news stories. In both cases the reporters posed no apparent danger to either themselves or others.
Television cameraman Louis DeSantis of WBRE/WYOU-TV was arrested at the scene of a drowning near the Sanderson Avenue Bridge in Scranton, Penn., in early June. DeSantis was charged with disorderly conduct, defiant trespass and failure to obey a police officer. His preliminary hearing was set for mid-July in the Lackawanna County Courthouse.
In early July, Reporter Brian Hansen was arrested while covering an environmental protest in Vail, Colo., for the Colorado Daily, an alternative newspaper in Boulder.
In the Pennsylvania case, DeSantis stood on the Sanderson Avenue Bridge to videotape the recovery of a fisherman’s body from the Lackawanna River.
Police Officer Jamie Barrett said that his supervisors had ordered him to keep the bridge “clear of any onlookers,” according to an affidavit that accompanied the criminal complaint against DeSantis. Barrett said in an affidavit that he asked DeSantis to leave the scene twice, but that DeSantis responded that he did not have leave the bridge because it was public property. Barrett then arrested DeSantis. Barrett’s affidavit also alleges that other officers had told DeSantis to leave the bridge and that he would not follow directions even after he was under arrest.
In Colorado, Hansen was swept up in arrests after environmental activists set up a blockade of Vail Mountain’s Mill Creek Road in an attempt to hinder a resort’s expansion project. However, in the early morning hours of the sixth day of the blockade, U.S. Forest Service agents and Eagle County Sheriff’s Office officers ordered the protesters to leave the demonstration site. They said they would give everyone 15 minutes to leave. The agents and officers obtained an order signed by White River National Forest Supervisor Martha Ketelle that temporarily closed off the protest area to the public.
Three protesters were arrested for blocking a public road. Two other protesters were arrested for refusing to leave the closed area.
Hansen was the sixth person arrested, also for refusing to leave the area. Hansen was covering the protest and the arrests of the environmental activists, according to Terje Langelend, another staffer at the Colorado Daily.
“It was a situation where we felt there was some substantial reason to suspect that federal officers might use force against these protesters, and if something like that happened, we felt like we had the responsibility to the public to document it,” Pamela White, editor of the Colorado Daily, told the Vail Daily.
(Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. DeSantis; Media Counsel: Thomas J. Munley, Scranton; Colorado v. Hansen; Media Counsel: Steven Zansberg, Denver)