Lawyer heading to Philly to school cops on media relations for convention

Photo Cathaleen Curtiss Used with permission. Mickey Osterreicher is coming to town

By Alex Lloyd Gross

“You can do this the easy way  or the hard way”, said Mickey Osterreicher, a former photojournalist, who is now an attorney as well as a Reserve Deputy Sheriff in Buffalo NY. He was referring to  the out of control cop who wants to stop the media  from filming. during the anticipated protests that are coming to town along with the Democratic Convention.  The easy way is to ignore the photographer. Let them be.  The hard way is to arrest or obstruct the guy with the camera. When you do that, “you pay for it, you take a risk of getting sued”, he said.

Mickey is bringing with him a wealth of knowledge  that is is willing to impart for free.  A discussion at Temple University on the rights of photographers will take place July 12, 20-16, less than a week away.  Lawyers charge a lot of money for advice. This is free. It’s valuable and you should attend. Period.  Representatives from the Philadelphia Police Department will be there, as well.

Photo Alex Lloyd Gross Delaware Valley A protester is arrested in Philly during the 2000 Republican National Convention

“I did this in 2012 for the conventions and there were zero arrests of media persons and that’s what we are shooting for here”, Osterreicher said. during a telephone interview.   in Philly during the  2000 Republican national Convention , hundreds of people were arrested for protesting.  Most of it was documented by the media. The command staff was there and no cop is going to snatch a cameraman from the street with the bosses watching. It’s what happens when a cop encounters a protester by himself  or a small group of officers with no supervision. That’s where problems happen. The media can film the cops all they want. There is nothing anyone can do. If someone is arrested in public they have no expectation of privacy.

Cameramen cannot interfere with the cops  as they are doing their job. If a bystander can be there, a camera man can be there.  Any officer that thinks they can hide behind a recent erroneous ruling by a Federal Judge that ruled people do not  have an right to film the police will find themselves on the wrong end of a lawsuit once the appeal is done. “That judge did us a favor, now we get a ruling  that you can film the cops, Mickey said.

Right after the program, the next day, Osterreicher will be at the police academy teaching cops  to ignore the media. Today, anyone with a camera can call themselves media. They are not journalists.  A guy with a camera posting pics on Facebook to his 5000 friends is not a journalist, he is just an amateur wannabe.  That guy may get turned down for convention credentials but he can still photograph the events on a public street.

Philadelphia has a policy that officers are not to interfere with the media or a cameraman.  That policy is good.  Other places, like Fergueson  Missouri  that saw journalists getting arrested did not have one. Now the town is busy negotiating settlements with photographers that were arrested.  Mickey was so horrified at what he saw that he took a trip down there to try to educate the cops. It was too little too late.  Mickey is the lawyer for the National Press Photographers Association. His program is July 12, 2016. It is free but the knowledge you get  when attending is priceless.  Spaces are limited. The link on top of this story will take you to the registration page.