Reporters of All Stripes Detained by DC Cops; Corp. Press Just Sees an Inconvenience

Matt of has alerted me to a couple of stories on the bunches of journalists, both indy and mainstream, that were rounded up by overzealous DC cops last Friday at the start of the IMF/WB protests.

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press reports that

“The count of journalists arrested late last week during the IMF-World Bank protests in downtown Washington, D.C., climbed to at least 17 as more reports came to light…. Two reporters and a United Press International intern were arrested, detained and released without charges in a matter of hours. Student journalists and independent media were detained anywhere from 10 to 27 hours, slapped with a $50 ‘post and forfeit’ fee for early release and returned to their respective newsrooms with a criminal charge of failing to obey the police.”

DC IMC held a press conference on Monday and reports evidence of much more blatant police targeting of those who would reveal their abuses:

“Two DC IMC journalists, Robin Bell and Matthew Bradley, were arrested while trying to cover Friday’s actions. Video evidence proves that the police blatantly targeted them for arrest.

‘I was specifically targeted by police officers for attempting to capture the unfolding events on video. When the police set up the parameter, I immediately identified myself as a journalist and attempted to join other journalists across police lines,’ Bell, a videographer with MPD press credentials, said. Bell’s request was denied. Furthermore, Police Chief Charles Ramsey authorized the removal of Bell’s media credentials by Public Information Officer Bryson during Bell’s arrest.”

Two Washington Post reporters described their experience being arrested in a piece entitled, “The View From the Other Side,” from last Friday’s edition of the paper. Although they note their rough treatment and noncommunication from DC police —

“Despite having identified ourselves as news reporters several times, we were grabbed forcefully by police officers in riot gear, handcuffed and led to Metrobus No. 8771 with 34 protesters and an indignant United Press International reporter. Aboard the bus, no charges were ever announced, and we watched as other journalists were allowed to leave.”

–absent from their account is any real sense of indignation or that the police round-up actually represented any sort of injustice. Perhaps that’s because

“Our wait would be much shorter than the others who were being detained. Our staff worked with police officials to clear up the matter and we were released without any charges at 1 p.m. “

So, rather than an assault on press freedom, the Post journalists seemed to have just experienced a little bureaucratic hassle that was easily resolved by the Post staff. Of course, independent, non-professional journalists are not afforded such luxuries or courtesies.

Should we be surprised that the mainstream press should look uncritically at a few of their reporters being arrested willy-nilly? Why, in the end they got released and everything was just dandy, right?

Looking at these arrests as anything other than an inconvenience would require that the corporate press admit the police had something more sinister in mind. The likes of the Post would have to admit that the police working the streets that day didn’t want reporters actively watching their actions from outside the closely guarded press areas. And then they’d have to ask the hard question,

“Gee, why in the world would the police be afraid to have reporters observing their behavior in controlling and rounding up protestors?”

They don’t want to ask that question, because they really don’t want to know the answer. Because when it all gets added together, the Post, the UPI and other mainstream media need the police all too much to protect their corporate positions of power. Even just at an event like the IMF and World Bank meetings, the corporate press rely on the cops to let their credentialed reporters in and keep the rabble out, never mind that their corporate bosses are also on the inside wheeling and dealing with the world’s economic elite.

Don’t doubt one bit that the corporate bosses aren’t willing to sacrifice a few young infantry to the cops for a few hours in exchange for getting to carry on in the guarded meeting rooms and mixers.

To question police force in the US is to question the very concept of keeping most of the population out of the bombshelters of power, even if that means beating them back with all the force they can muster. What corporate boss or minion would benefit from that?






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