ABC News: Denver police push staffer into traffic, arrest him

Thursday, August 28, 2008

DENVER — An ABC News producer covering the Democratic convention was pushed into traffic by a sheriff's deputy yesterday and then arrested, the network said.

Asa Eslocker was arrested on charges of interference, trespass and failure to obey a lawful order.

Authorities said Eslocker had been told repeatedly to stop blocking a sidewalk and an entrance to Denver's Brown Palace Hotel. He wasn't arrested until three hours after the first warning, police said.

ABC said Eslocker and a film crew were trying to photograph senators and donors for a story on the role of corporate lobbyists and wealthy donors at the convention. The network said video of the incident shows a deputy telling Eslocker that the sidewalk is owned by the hotel, then pushing him into traffic.

“We expect to see that kind of thing in Myanmar, not on the streets of Denver,” ABC spokesman Jeffrey Schneider said in a written statement.

Denver police Lt. Ron Saunier said he had no information on the claim that Eslocker was pushed into traffic. He urged the network to show the video to law enforcement.

ABC posted the video on its Web site.

In a story posted on the ABC site, reporter Brian Ross describes the video: “The sheriff's officer is seen telling Eslocker the sidewalk is owned by the hotel. Later he is seen pushing Eslocker off the sidewalk into oncoming traffic, forcing him to the other side of the street.”

“The Denver Police Department is committed to looking into each and every allegation of unnecessary force,” Saunier said.

Saunier said authorities have tried to accommodate the news media this week. “One instance with the media shouldn't paint the entire event,” he said.

Eslocker is the first journalist reported to have been arrested during the convention. More than 100 other people have been arrested during protests.

Saunier said that authorities were reviewing video of another incident this week in which an officer pushed a protester to the ground and called her a derogatory name.

Reporters Without Borders, a journalism-advocacy group based in Washington, raised concerns yesterday about whether police were interfering with press coverage of protests at the convention.

Denver Police Chief Gerald Whitman reminded officers in writing on Aug. 26 that Colorado law gives journalists some privileges when they're covering disturbances.

Also yesterday, the American Civil Liberties claimed that scores of protesters arrested after a clash with police on the night of Aug. 25 were not allowed to have private conversations with attorneys, were given incorrect information about the charges they faced, and were held for up to 8 hours before they were taken to court.

In a letter to city officials, the ACLU said some protesters weren't allowed to make phone calls, were left handcuffed inside cells and were left barefoot or shirtless in cells that were “incredibly cold.”

Saunier said he had not seen the letter and could not comment.

Tags: , , ,