Oakland Tribune Photographer Handcuffed by Police at Scene Sues Oakland Police Department
The SF Chronicle has a story out about Oakland Tribune photographer Ray Chavez who is suing the Oakland Police Department. According to Chavez, he was covering a car crash as a Tribune photographer when he was arrested and detained.
“It has been very stressful since I was humiliated by the OPD officers,” Chavez said in an interview. “They should do their jobs and not interfere with ours as media members. These cops need to be re-educated. I don’t think they know what the First Amendment and freedom of the press means.”
Alex Katz, spokesman for City Attorney John Russo, declined to comment. The city previously rejected a claim that Chavez filed in connection with the incident.”
The SF Chronicle is reporting that it was Oakland police Officer Kevin Reynolds who got into the confrontation with Chavez that ultimately ended up in his arrest.
If this is how the Oakland PD treats the press, imagine how they’d treat you and me in this situation. It is sad that the Oakland PD, which desperately needs resources in one of the worst crime years on record, will likely have to end up forking over much needed cash for abusing a photographer.
I hope that Reynolds is taken to task for his failure in judgment over arresting a photographer. Photography is not a crime.
I’m also appalled, but sadly not surprised, by so many of the comments on the SF Chronicle’s website. So many people tend to bash photographers when they stand up for their rights. Comments like: “He’s a ghoul,” and “Paparazzi covering auto accidents? Geez!” and “[he] should be accused of not attempting to help the woman who was injured” and “He [the reporter] deserves much worse than he got.” and “He is the epitome of what every decent person hates about reporters and paparazzi.” These sorts of comments blaming the photographer who stands up for his First Amendment rights are typical of what photographers are up against. Too many people would suggest that we simply blindly obey any authority whatsoever and cow tow to abuse and take it without complaint in the interest of “getting along.”
It’s worth nothing that Chavez is not only a working press photographer but he was also honored earlier this month by the National Association of Hispanic Journalists as their photojournalist of the year. As far as I’m concerned the guy’s a hero for standing up for the rights of photographers everywhere.