For the second time in just over a month, Milwaukee police arrested a photojournalist trying to do their job.
This time the arrest took place during an Occupy Milwaukee march, which started at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and made its way down city streets.
As about 40 protesters, mostly students, marched down the street, police warned them to stay off the street.
And they obviously meant business, arresting two protesters and a Journal Sentinel photographer who happened to be standing in the street taking photos, according to the newspaper.
Police warned students to get out of the street, or they would be arrested. Engber said the first person arrested was a male student in front of her.
“He was moving toward the sidewalk,” she said. “I was right behind him, and they didn’t arrest me.”
Wentz-Graff was in the street, photographing the arrest when police grabbed her and arrested her, Engber said.
“They had no regard for her (photography) equipment,” she said.
Another male student was arrested when he walked from the sidewalk to the street to find out why police made the arrests, Engber said.
Here is a video of the arrests here. Police gave no warning.
The National Press Photographers Association provided the following statement and will be contacting the Milwaukee police chief tomorrow, who proved not to be a big believer of photography rights after September’s arrest of a photojournalist.
After having reviewed the video of the arrest it is clear that Ms. Wentz-Graff was just doing her job as a photojournalist covering a story of public interest. She was not interfering with the officers in any way. It is unfortunate and extremely disappointing that the Milwaukee Police Department has failed to train its officers to respect the First Amendment rights of journalists. They have also failed to adhere to their own code of conduct which states that “department members shall not use their official position . . . to unnecessarily interfere with the . . . professional responsibilities of any person or agency.”
Since objecting to the arrest of another photojournalist, Clint Fillinger, in September, the National Press Photographers Association (NPPA) has been waiting for a response to our offer to help MPD develop reasonable and workable policies, practices and training in order to avoid similar situations. It apparent from their behavior today that such training and supervision is sorely lacking.
I understand that police need to keep demonstrators off the streets during their marches, but I also know it’s sometimes inevitable to remain on the sidewalk when walking in large crowds.
I’ve covered many rallies over the years, including several with the Occupy Miami protesters in recent weeks, and police are always telling people to stay off the streets.
And for the most part, the activists do their best to stay on the sidewalk, but there are always a few people that need to be reminded. But once they are reminded, they jump back on the sidewalk.
The Occupy Miami activists do their best to remind fellow protesters to stay on the sidewalk, which makes the cops’ job even easier.
In fact, the relationship between Miami police and Occupy Miami is so cordial that I wrote about it on Miami Beach 411 this week.
So even though these arrests in Milwaukee might have been technically lawful, it seems a little heavy-handed considering they gave no warning.
And if there is anything we’ve learned from this Occupy movement spreading throughout the country is that police heavy-handedness only makes the activists more determined and stronger in numbers.
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