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Chicago Cops Arrest Local Journalists: 'Your First Amendment Rights Can Be Terminated


"Your first amendment rights can be terminated if you're creating a scene, or whatever."

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.

"F*** 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?

(H/T: TV Spy)

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