Vince Lovato is the editor of the Lake County Leader in Polson, Montana, and has been a journalist for 33 years.
When Lovato heard about a car collision last Wednesday, he and his wife, a reporter for the same paper, drove to the scene of the accident to gather information and take photographs. Instead of being allowed to take photographs, a Montana Highway Patrol trooper put Lovato in handcuffs and arrested him for obstructing a peace officer, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. Lovato is 53 years old with over three decades of experience in journalism, yet this is the first incident one can find of Lovato being arrested for doing his job. The law regarding photography in public has not changed, a veteran journalist like Lovato likely has not changed, so what has changed that this story would end with Lovato in jail, facing two years in jail and fines up to two thousand dollars?
For anyone still unconvinced that many police officers now view photography as a criminal act, here is the defining picture. Veteran journalist Vince Lovato, doing the same job he has done for 33 years, dumbfounded as he is treated like a criminal and led to a police car by a young state trooper who probably thinks booking photographers on unfounded charges is just part of the daily routine.
For those who want to help PINAC grow and spread the message that Photography Is Not A Crime, this is your rallying cause. Sue the pants off ’em Vince.