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Tucson Citizen photographer arrested while shooting campus protest

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Tucson Citizen photographer arrested while shooting campus protest

  • Photographer Gary Gaynor must appear in court next week on charges of criminal trespass.

March 17, 2003 — Gary Gaynor, a photographer for the Tucson Citizen, was arrested March 5 during a protest on the University of Arizona campus.

Approximately 30 people entered the University of Arizona Administration Building to protest the possible military action in Iraq and a proposed tuition increase. Four people attached bicycle locks around their necks to secure themselves to a railing as others sat around them.

Gaynor said he was photographing on one side of the room. On the other side, police were pushing people out the door, so he went over to get some closer shots. The police told him he was next to leave.

“When the police officer told me to leave I showed my news ID and he told me I would still have to leave,” Gaynor said. “I said something to the effect of ‘I’m just doing my job’ but I was still forced out of the room.”

He said one police officer pushed him out the door and called for the help of other officers. Gaynor explained that when he looks at photographs that other photographers there took of the incident, he can see that three officers have their hands on him while two more are following them out.

“On the way out of the building one officer purposely grabbed a hold of the flash while he put his other hand on the bottom of the camera,” Gaynor said. “He broke the thing right in half and took the flash off the camera.”

Gaynor said he had his head pushed down and dropped to the ground as the officers got his hands behind his back and cuffed him. He was subdued for more than an hour as he stood up against a wall with several other protesters.

The officers then told Gaynor he could either sign a citation note of trespassing, or, if he refused, they would take him to court immediately and confiscate all of his camera equipment.

“They put a phone up to my ear and called my publisher,” Gaynor said. “He told me to go ahead and sign the note and just get out of there.”

Gaynor said he signed the note so he could keep all of his equipment with him. Gaynor explained he does not know why he was the only journalist targeted. He suspects it was because he was the closest photographer to the protestors, but until the police tell him why, he really does not know. He was the only journalist taken into custody.

Gaynor is contesting charges of third-degree criminal trespassing. He said his lawyer is attempting to have the charges dropped before his hearing March 26 in Pima County.

“I’m not guilty of breaking the law, if anything the police are guilty of breaking the Constitution,” he said. “What we have here is a First Amendment situation and they had no right to even ask me to leave.”

AT


© 2003 The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

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