A Canadian newspaper reporter was placed in a headlock, handcuffed and detained for photographing an injured police officer inside a Toronto train station.
Alex Consiglio of the Toronto Star was eventually cited for trespassing, even though he had purchased a ticket for the train.
He had photographed an officer who had broken his ankle, one of two officers thrown on the tracks in a skirmish with a man who had tried to open the train doors as it was moving.
Officials claimed that journalists are not allowed to take photographs inside the city-owned train station without first signing a waiver – even though non-journalists are free to take all the photos they want.
According to the Toronto Star:
News photographers are not allowed to take photos without permission at Union Station, said Anne Marie Aikins, media relations manager with Metrolinx, which raises questions about the viability of stopping media, and onlookers, from recording news as it happens in an age of smart phones and social media.
“People take photos on the subway all the time. I’ve taken photos on the subway. So there could be an expectation that you’re not doing anything wrong,” said University of British Columbia journalism professor Alfred Hermida.
“Handcuffing a reporter and ticketing them does seem to be applying the law a little bit too literally, without acknowledging that you have a job to do as police, and a journalist has a job to do as a journalist.”
After witnessing several Toronto police officers rush toward the GO Transit track level, Alex Consiglio followed and took a photograph of an injured transit officer crouched beside the track. “I took the picture and they came over to me saying I couldn’t take pictures. They told me to leave, so I left. I was trying to figure out what was going on,” Consiglio said.
Aikins said working journalists need to sign a waiver before taking photos in Union Station — even though the public takes photos in Union Station all the time on their smart phones.
The difference, Aikens said, is that journalists are taking pictures in the “official capacity,” which she said creates a “liability issue.”
While it’s true that the laws regarding public photography are slightly different in Canada, it is obvious Aikens is trying to spin this story in favor of her employer.
The real issue is that they were embarrassed that two of their officers were manhandled by a passenger.