Oakland Tribune Photographer Handcuffed by Police at Scene Sues Oakland Police Department

Tribune photographer handcuffed at crash scene sues Oakland police

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.

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  1. Rasmus says:

    Kind of a side note here, but I’d be willing to bet money that a lot of the same people, who are leaving negative comments about the photographer, also enjoy gossip magazines and tv-shows frequently featuring papparazzi photography.

    As for the case at hand, good for him! I hope he sues the pants off of the police force. That’s the only way to teach them, not to harass people who – like the cops themselves – are there to do a job and nothing else. As long as the press does not get in the way of an active investigation, there should be no issue in the first place.

  2. ChiliMac says:

    Do the people commenting thing reporters shouldn’t report auto accidents? I could understand (but not agree) if people were saying that some joe on the street taking shots just to be a ghoul but journalism is to important to this country to feel that way.

  3. Anonymous says:

    On on! Fight on TH.

    -jakerome

  4. Anonymous says:

    Any info on the outcome of the criminal case against him?

  5. j.buck says:

    If a cop commits a crime, have him tried for it. Period. He broke the law that he is sworn to uphold.

  6. Sean Gentry says:

    I agree that an interesting side note from the issue of photographer’s rights is the anti-photographer reaction from so much of the public. They are very vocal and a little scary in their presence. In nearly every story about this issue, they are there.

    Thanks for sharing this. I hope the Oakland PD learn to respect our rights a little better.

  7. Livardo says:

    So from hearing about those comments, it appears that they’re lumping paparazzi with everyone else with a camera. Not to justify anything, but everyone hates those damn paparazzi assholes.

  8. gary says:

    Public support is the most powerful asset in a police officer’s arsenal. Anything that erodes public support reduces an officer’s ability to successfully fulfill their responsibility to the public.

    Accidents are valid news. Reading about or seeing accidents can help some people realize they need to change their driving habits. Reading about the heroic acts of police increases public support, and helps people feel that they can trust police.

    This could have been a fine local story about the great work that these officers are doing. Instead, because of the actions of this officer, we have a national story damaging the reputations of police everywhere.

    I don’t know a single photo journalist who wouldn’t give back all the money they ever made from covering gruesome accidents to bring just one of them back.