Ethan Welty was photographing a group of activists last week after they had scaled a fence of a Colorado power plant and climbed on top of a huge coal mound to protest the use of coal.
The four protesters unleashed a huge banner that stated “Renewables Now” and planted two mock wind turbines as they remained on the coal for 90 minutes.
As expected, Boulder County Sheriff’s deputies eventually showed up to arrest the protesters.
But what was not expected was for deputies to walk outside the power plant and arrest Welty, who was standing among a dozen people supporting the protesters.
“Maybe they thought my camera was a threat,” Welty said in an interview with Photography is Not a Crime Monday morning.
Welty was charged with criminal trespass along with the four others even though he never set foot on the property. He and the others spent seven hours in jail.
And his name was listed among “five of the protesters” who scaled the fence and climbed the coal mound in a Boulder County Sheriff’s press release.
And, of course, the media picked up on that and began reporting that Welty was arrested for scaling the fence.
“There were only four protesters. Not five. I am the mythical fifth,” he said.
Although deputies never saw Welty on the mound, power plant officials told them he had climbed the fence, so they arrested him.
“They picked me out of the crowd and arrested me,” he said. “I handed my (memory card) off to one of other guys and was able to get it back later.”
Welty has since contacted various media agencies to correct the story. At least one, The Daily Camera, ran a correction.
But he is still facing the criminal trespass charge.