Saturday, November 1, 2008

Police detain videographer, take her tape

Police confiscated video footage Friday from an Oakland Tribune photographer who was filming students protesting federal immigration policy, according to the Tribune and AP. The photographer, Jane Tyska, was placed in back of a patrol car for about a half-hour and released without citation. According to the Tribune:
    Troy Flint, the spokesman for the Oakland school district, said OUSD Police Chief Art Michel was trailing the student-protesters as they made their way down International Boulevard.

    Flint said Michel reported that Tribune videographer Jane Tyska, who was filming from the street at the time, elbowed the police car as Michel drove by.

    "The officer confiscated the tape as alleged evidence of the photographer's interference with his ability to conduct his responsibilities, which in this case was protecting student-protesters," Flint said.

    Tyska said the officer grazed her with his car as she was walking backwards, videotaping protesters in the middle of the street. He then stopped his car, began yelling profanities at her and accused her of hitting his car and inciting a riot, Tyska said.

    "I immediately identified myself as a photographer for the Oakland Tribune, showed him my press pass, and said I was just doing my job, but he continued yelling and screaming profanities and said he was going to arrest me."

    "I asked the officer why it was illegal for me to shoot from the street and he said it was a 'moving crime scene'. To my knowledge, there is no such thing, and photographers are always in the middle of the action at protests."
The AP quoted Peter Scheer, executive director of the California First Amendment Coalition, as saying police are generally not allowed to seize what they think could be evidence in a future case without a warrant or subpoena.

"That just gives police huge powers that they don't have," he said, calling the incident "very unusual."

The Tribune is attempting to get the tape back from the school district police, said managing editor Pete Wevurski.

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