Minneapolis cops detain activist journalists, confiscate their cameras

Three activist journalists in town to videotape the RNC protests were stopped, questioned, and searched by police officers early this morning and had their cameras, a computer, and personal effects seized, one of the three, Vlad Teichberg, told City Pages this afternoon.

Teichberg, 36, and his two colleagues are members of the NYC-based Glass Bead Collective, which grabbed headlines a couple weeks back when it sponsored the infamous YouTube video of an NYPD cop who tackled a Critical Mass biker on July 25. The cop, as yet unidentified, was quickly stripped of his gun and shield and transferred to desk duty pending the outcome of a police investigation.

Teichberg says that he and his two friends were walking near 26th Ave. and 6th St. NE at around 2:00 a.m. on Tuesday morning when two police cars pulled up alongside them. Officers exited the vehicles, Teichberg says, questioned the three, and then searched their possessions and took their small video cameras, a laptop, a portable hard drive, and other personal effects.

"At no time did we consent to the search," Teichberg says.

The officers said that they could get their possessions back the next day, Teichberg adds.

Teichberg says that he and another of the alleged victims had just picked up their colleague at a bus stop after she'd arrived from Chicago, and that they were walking back to the house where they were staying in northeast Minneapolis when the cops stopped them.

"I don’t see any legal basis at all for seizing the video equipment," says the trio's lawyer, Bruce Nestor, who is president of the Minnesota chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, a volunteer group whose members will be present during RNC protests to monitor law enforcement behavior.

Nestor says he spoke with an MPD lieutenant who told him the police are investigating the three for trespassing on railroad property and that the property is being kept to determine its true owners.

Messages left with a supervisor at the second precinct, where the alleged incident occurred, and with MPD spokesman Jesse Garcia, were not returned.

Teichberg, his friends, and their lawyers have scheduled a press conference for 4 p.m.

Of concern, it seems, is whether the officers in this instance were targeting Teichberg et al as members of an anti-cop group armed with cameras. If that's the case--and we're not saying it is, just that the whole thing seems a bit weird--then that would be a bad thing.


On a slightly related note, a few days back MPR's Tim Nelson talked about cameras and cops (and pretend cops) ahead of the convention:

At least three times in recent weeks, photographers say they've been stopped on public streets or sidewalks [in St. Paul], told to stop taking pictures or produce identification or leave the area.

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