Chicago police arrested WGN reporter Dan Ponce and WMAQ photographer
Donte Williams Saturday, saying that they were “creating a scene”
outside of Mount Sinai hospital.
The two were covering the fatal shooting of a six-year old girl and,
though they were already across the street, the officer demanded they go
another street over.
“Fuck news affairs, I don’t care about news affairs. Forget news affairs,” he said.
When the journalists spoke to their rights, the officer replied, “Your
first amendment rights can be terminated, if you’re creating a scene, or
whatever. Your first amendment rights have limitations.”
After the journalists responded, “how have we created a scene? This is
what we do for a living,” the officer replied, “Your presence is
creating a scene.”
Ponce and Williams maintain that they never went into the hospital.
Ponce elaborated on Sunday, saying, “What upset me about last night was
this was not an active crime scene…This is in front of a hospital.
The reporters and photographers were standing on the median sidewalk
when the officer started yelling at us, telling us to get further away.
We decided to take a stand.”
A police report says otherwise.
“We removed two individuals from the hospital at the request of hospital
security guards, who asserted that the individuals had tried to go past
them into secure and private areas of the hospital. The security guards
declined to press charges and the individuals were released.”
Though it is very possible that the journalists attempted to enter the
hospital— their video appears to be edited— does that warrant the police
officer’s graphic response, and his threat to “terminate” the first
amendment rights of the journalists?
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