‘Your First Amendment rights can be terminated’

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Chicago police handcuffed and took two journalists into custody over the weekend, as captured on video by NBC Chicago.

The March 17 incident occurred as NBC Chicago photographer Donte Williams, WGN Reporter Dan Ponce and others tried to cover the story of the fatal shooting of a 6-year-old girl who was taken to Mt. Sinai Hospital.

“Your First Amendment rights can be terminated if you’re creating a scene or whatever,” an officer told journalists shortly before Williams and Ponce were detained. They were released shortly after being taken into custody.

When news crews gathered on a sidewalk outside the hospital, hospital staff reportedly called police to complain that the journalists were trespassing.

“The news crews, at the request of police officers, said they had already moved from a public sidewalk directly in front of the hospital, to a median halfway across the street,” NBC Chicago reported. Police disputed the account, saying some reporters tried to get into the hospital. Reporters denied the police account.

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