[Hpn] LA: Reporters arrested covering DNC protest face charges FWD

Tom Boland wgcp@earthlink.net
Mon, 21 Aug 2000 23:08:51 -0700 (PDT)

FWD  Associated Press - AP Wire Service - Aug 17, 2000


     Associated Press Writer

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Police apologized Thursday for knocking down
and jostling journalists during a protest outside the Democratic
National Convention, but continued to press charges against two
reporters arrested while covering a bicycle rally.

An Associated Press reporter and another from the Chicago
Tribune were detained for hours and later charged with obstructing
a public way after covering the bike rally Tuesday. Their reporting
equipment and bikes were seized.

Police said the reporters were arrested because they were with
demonstrators who broke traffic laws.

The journalists said they were doing nothing illegal when
arrested. The AP and the Chicago Tribune are challenging the
charges, and AP has protested its reporter's arrest to Los Angeles
Police Chief Bernard Parks.

A technician carrying a microphone for CNN at a Wednesday
protest against police brutality was jabbed with a baton and
knocked to the ground by an officer. The technician, Dana Hopper,
was treated at a hospital for bruised ribs.

The incident was caught on videotape, and an LAPD spokesman
later apologized for any injuries.

``We're concerned. And, quite frankly, if any journalists were
mixed up in that, they got tied up in that melee, let us begin by
apologizing,'' Cmdr. David Kalish said during a news conference
Thursday. ``It's not our intention to interfere with the media or
to jostle media people around.''

Tom Johnson, president, chairman and CEO of CNN News Group,
protested the incident in a letter to Parks, said CNN spokeswoman
Edna Johnson. Kalish said the LAPD would investigate.

``All of our commanders are going to talk to our officers and
remind them to, if possible, work with the media,'' Kalish said.

The two reporters who were detained _ AP radio reporter Brian
Bland and Chicago Tribune reporter Flynn McRoberts _ said they were
riding legally when arrested. Both were held for several hours
without explanation. They said they had followed the demonstrators
on bicycle to keep up with the rolling rally through downtown.
Police officers escorted the demonstrators through traffic.

Police Officer Jason Lee said the group had no permit to
demonstrate and the escorting police were monitoring the rally for

Bland was arrested after the demonstration ended and he was
heading to the AP's bureau.

``There was a group of about 10 cyclists riding legally when we
were swooped by motorcycle officers and eventually arrested,''
Bland said.

McRoberts was arrested covering the same rally: ``To them, it
made no difference that I had press credentials on and that I had
committed no violations.''

The reporters first were charged with reckless driving.
Prosecutors later changed that to obstructing a public way, a
misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of six months in jail and a
$1,000 fine. The reporters and some demonstrators also were charged
with two infractions, riding the wrong way down a one-way street
and running a stop sign, said Mike Qualls of the city attorney's
office. Each infraction carries a $100 fine.

Sgt. John Pasquariello, an LAPD spokesman, said the reporters
were arrested because they were riding illegally along with the

``If they were violating the law, they're not exempt,''
Pasquariello said. ``They couldn't just let the media guys go and
arrest everyone else. Nobody was targeting the media.''

Bland and McRoberts were released on bail and most of their
belongings returned, but not their bikes. Police said they were
being held as evidence.

The American Civil Liberties Union has said it would sue the
LAPD on behalf of a free-lance news photographer, Al Crespo, who
said he was struck in the ear by a rubber pellet Monday as officers
cleared a crowd from the scene of a rock concert. He was treated at
a hospital for minor head injuries.

The filing of the suit has been delayed because courts, on a
limited schedule during the convention, were accepting only
emergency filings, said ACLU spokesman Christopher Calhoun.

AP-CS-08-17-00 1739EDT
Received  Id AP1002303BD8118A on Aug 17 2000 16:52


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