If one Chicago police officer is to be believed, American citizens can lose their most fundamental rights simply by standing near an irritable cop.
That’s what two members of the press found out on Sunday, when an angry police officer told them they would be arrested if they did not stop filming in front of the Mt. Sinai Hospital. They were attempting to cover a tragic story of a little girl who was shot and killed over the weekend.
Security guards at the hospital reportedly called police and claimed that a reporter had tried to push past them and get into the hospital. When police showed up, reporters with NBC Chicago claim they respected their request to move across the street and into a median, away from the public sidewalk in front of the facility. But that was not good enough for one officer, who argued with reporters in the road’s median, telling them that they must move. When they refused, he insisted: “Your First Amendment right can be terminated if you’re creating a scene or whatever.”
Challenged by reporters that they had not created a scene, the officer replied: “Your presence is creating a scene.”
One of the reporters’ responds: “But this is what we do for a living! What we do for a living is creating a scene?” Another reporter adds: “You’ve got a lawsuit coming.”
“I don’t care about no damn lawsuit!” the officer answers. “F*ck a lawsuit. Just ’cause you sue doesn’t mean you’re going to win.”
He then promptly arrested Donte Williams, a photographer, and Dan Ponce, a reporter for WGN-TV Chicago. Both journalists were detained for approximately 10 minutes and then released without charge.
“Our members were attempting to protect and respect both the grieving family members of the child, and the memory of the child herself during a very stressful time for all parties involved,” NBC Chicago explained Monday morning. “As always, we will carefully review the allegations in the event further action is warranted.”