Chicago

Chicago police officer tells reporters that their First Amendment rights 'can be terminated'

Thursday, March 29, 2012 by: Jonathan Benson, staff writer
Tags: First Amendment, Chicago, police

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(NaturalNews) The recent murder of a six-year-old girl in Chicago's South Side was compounded by the arrest of two members of the press who were present at the hospital where the girl's body was taken. NBC 5 in Chicago reports that photographer Donte Williams and WGN reporter Dan Ponce were arrested and detained by Chicago police for "creating a scene,' upon which they were told that their First Amendment rights were basically invalid.

Reports indicate that Mt. Sinai Hospital had initially called police out to the grounds on claims that certain individuals were trespassing on the property. When police arrived, they allegedly told the reporters and other press members standing on the front sidewalk to move further away to the median in the street, an order to which they all say they complied.

But the situation escalated when Chicago police decided to arrest Williams and Ponce on charges of "creating a scene." These officers later claimed that Williams and Ponce were among the news crews that tried to get past officers into "secure" areas of the hospital.

Williams, Ponce, and the others responded by disputing this claim, having told other media that they never once tried to get past police, and never attempted to enter the hospital. But police officers proceeded to arrest them anyway, telling them that their First Amendment rights "can be terminated if you're creating a scene or whatever."

When the two asked the arresting officer how they were creating a scene, the officer reportedly responded by claiming that their mere presence constituted creating a scene. In other words, merely being present is now considered a disturbance of the peace, and a violation worthy of losing one's First Amendment rights

Regardless of whether or not you agree with these reporters having been at the hospital where the young girl was taken after her murder is irrelevant. The total disregard by the Chicago police officer in question for these individuals' First Amendment rights is the issue here, and it is one that appears to be sweeping the nation's police departments.

Police officers in Philadelphia, for example, recently arrested a photojournalism student for taking pictures of a traffic stop near his house. According to reports, the officers blatantly denied the student's First Amendment rights verbally, and proceeded to shove him to the ground, handcuff him, and arrest him (http://www.foxnews.com).

Sources for this article include:

http://www.nbcchicago.com

http://www.nbcchicago.com

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