KSTP wants answers from Minneapolis police over cameraman shoving incident [VIDEO]
KSTP cameraman Chad Nelson, left, just moments after being shoved by an unidentified officer, right.
During a "Re-Occupy" Minneapolis demonstration on Saturday night, protesters learned from police they would not be allowed to erect tents in Peavey Plaza. After they marched in the street in protest, 12 people were arrested on Nicollet Mall for public nuisance and impeding traffic.
KSTP cameraman Chad Nelson was filming one of those arrests when a Minneapolis police officer violently shoved his camera away, sending it crashing to the ground. The incident was caught on tape.
Now station management is demanding to know why a member of the press was prevented from doing his job.
Nelson declined to comment but his news director Lindsay Radford says she got a call from him just after it happened, around 11:30 p.m. She says that immediately afterward the camera wasn't working and that station engineers are assessing the extent of the damage. She also watched the incident on YouTube.
"He's clearly shooting video of someone getting arrested. My photographer says he had no verbal warning," she says. "They were standing in the middle of the street, which is public property."
The video seems to show the same officer covering up the digital camera of a protester and then arresting him, as Nelson picks himself up in the background. Radford says Nelson's shoulder and neck were injured in the incident, and that she's requested a meeting with Chief Tim Dolan to address both the incident as well as the larger issue that it raises about press coverage of police activity.
Here is KSTP's own story on the incident, which included a statement from Dolan:
We are reviewing and we have an open investigation. At this time, we do not have even preliminary investigative results on this incident. The Minneapolis Police Department will not support unjustified uses of force.
Press information officer Stephen McCarty says he doesn't know yet if Dolan will agree to the meeting, but that the incident is under investigation by an Internal Affairs lieutenant. He declined to identify the officer involved.
Chad Nelson, left, looks on as the officer arrests another videographer.
While other Occupy movements around the country have spurred altercations between police and reporters, this is a first in what previously seemed to be an attempt by local law enforcement not to attract any unnecessary attention from the media when confronting protesters. In the past, Hennepin County sheriff's deputies waited until dead of night to take down tents at the Government Center.
"Am I surprised?" says Radford. "I'd say more disappointed for my photographer. We're all involved in what's a heated situation and my photographer was level-headed. I would expect that everyone involved in the situation on a professional level to behave that way."
Osha Karow, an Occupy Minneapolis organizer who watched the altercation, says this is further proof that arrests and restrictions on occupiers are a violation of First Amendment rights.
"A reporter for a local media outlet had his camera ripped out of his hands. . . which shows that the freedom of the press itself is not being respected," he wrote in an email.
Protesters are planning to meet again today at 1 p.m. at Government Plaza to protest the restrictions and arrests.
Here's the incident, and below that some video footage someone managed to take inside the paddy wagon:
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