By Alex Lloyd Gross
The whole world is going to be watching. On tv, the internet and on DVD’s in the future. The last thing a journalist ,or wannabe journalist wants is to be arrested covering the protests. A two hour panel was held last night, July 12, 2016 at Temple University. It was free. This panel was chaired by Mickey Osterreicher, a media attorney. Lt. John Stanford PIO of the Philadelphia Police Department and Francis Healy, from the Philadelphia Police Department were the two people that journalists wanted to hear from the most.
The event was attended by about 75 people. Some will be at the convention and others just wanted information. “You have a right to photograph on a public street”, Healy said. Clearly, the city wants to avoid the disaster that was the 2000 Republican National Convention, when the city did mass arrests and got sued. The lawsuit cost the city millions of dollars. They absolutely want to avoid the debacle that NYC had when they used snow fencing to corral protesters. media members without the official DNC credential were arrested and that cost NYC over 10 million dollars.
Philly is hoping for zero media arrests during the convention. They do not want to lock up the protesters either. “They have a right to voice their opinion”, Stanford said. However,some protesters want to be arrested and some untrained amateur photographers may want to push the envelope to get arrested as well. Should that happen, the city has three options. 1 Simple disorderly conduct and blocking the highway arrests. If the person shows ID and has no warrants on them, they will be transported away from the arrest site,processed and released with a civil fine of $50.00. Option 2 , The arrestee refuses to identify themselves. They will be transferred to an alternate site to be finger printed and held until their identity is verified. Option 3 felony and misdemeanor arrests will be processed normally.
You are doing no one any good when you are being held by the police. They want to release you quickly so you can get back out to take photos or protest your cause. It was not only information applicable to the DNC but 24/7 everyday. Osterreicher showed this video when a police SGT from Suffolk NY disgraced his entire department. He should have known better. In the video he said “There is nothing you can hold over my head”, except a $200,000 settlement check , that he was able to secure for his client. Both Stanford and Healy cringed when they saw it. It’s a perfect example of what not to do.
David Boardman, the Dean of Temple’s School of media and communications also had a lot to say. Anyone with a camera can call themselves a journalist. The city does not issue any credentials,they stopped that, which is a step in the wrong direction. With strict guidelines and criteria, credentials should be issued . Anyone can take a bunch of photos and put them on social media. That should not qualify them as being a journalist. During the recent papal visit only established media people were issued credentials. The social media wannabe was denied. They were welcome to take photos from any public area. Boardman would like to see credentials start to be reissued.
Some protesters will shout insults and death wishes at cops. Imagine wearing 25 pounds of gear and having a person trucked in from another state tell you are you and idiot and should be killed. In fact, if you were to be killed, it would be a great thing. They are yelling and screaming at you and you have to stand and listen, with no reaction. That is what the cops will have to deal with and what the cop may have just dealt with when they encounter a photographer. The advice given was to be professional and respectful. The respect is a two way street.