Sep. 26, 2007 · The trial begins today for two freelance photojournalists who were arrested nearly two years ago while covering a Nazi rally in Toledo, Ohio.
Jeffrey Sauger and Jim West were both taking pictures of the rally on Dec. 10 2005, when they were arrested.
Sauger was charged with criminal trespass even though he was standing in an enclosure set aside specifically for media and carrying press credentials. Police said he did not have the “temporary media permit” that had been distributed to other reporters earlier in the day. Sauger claims that police told him that lacking the permit would not be a problem.
Police arrested West while taking photographs of officers on horseback riding through anti-Nazi protesters. He was charged with failure to disperse.
Police arrested a third photojournalist, Jeffrey Willis of the Toledo (Ohio) Journal, as well, though all charges against Willis have been dropped. Willis was charged with disorderly conduct as he photographed police and was arrested before the rally even began.
Julie Hurwitz, an attorney representing Sauger and West, said she believes that her clients were arrested based on what they were taking pictures of at the event.
“We believe the evidence will show that these professional journalists were arrested not because they violated the law, but because they were photographing an overly aggressive police response to citizens exercising their fundamental constitutional rights to protest,” Hurwitz said. “This case is important because the news media was targeted for reporting on questionable governmental activities.”
The trial is expected to last three days.
(City of Toledo v. Sauger; Media counsel: Julie Hurwitz, Goodman & Hurwitz, Detroit) — Matthew Pollack