Video Tape of Oakland Unified School District Police Chief Art Michel’s Altercation with Photographer

[Warning: Profanity in this article]

The Oakland Tribune has made public today a videotape that was originally seized by Oakland Unified School District Police Chief Art Michel during an altercation that I blogged about yesterday between Michel and Tribune videographer Jane Tyska.

The video is troubling on many levels. I believe that police in our society are given an enormous amount of authority and power over everyday citizens. I believe that with this power and authority ought to come a great degree of prudence and composure when dealing with photographers. Especially in this case, where a photographer was shooting a politically sensitive protest, I think that the police chief in question handled the situation very poorly and ought to be disciplined for his actions based on this video.

Even if a police officer has good reason to detain a photographer (which I seriously doubt in this case) I think that they still ought to deal with the person involved with respect. Unfortunately, on the videotape released, Oakland Unified School District Police Chief Art Michel does anything but interact respectfully with a very upset and shaken Jane Tyska. In my opinion people like Michel do not belong in law enforcement.

Chief Michel repeatedly uses profanity with the photographer when she never used profanity with him. Not only did Michel confiscate Tyska’s videotape (which should only be done in extreme cases if ever in my opinion) he tells Tyska that she is “going to jail,” that she needs to “get in the fucking car,” and that she’s a “pain in the ass.” He also threatens her physically saying that he’s going to stuff her in the car and proceeds to call her a “lying son of a bitch,” and says that she was trying to incite a “riot.”

You can see the videotape for yourself here.

Photography is not a crime.

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  1. Thomas – what depresses me most about these incidents are the comments from the public on the news stories.

    Overwhelmingly they blame the photographer and criticize anyone who dares question the police.

  2. Danno says:

    While he does appear angry, and is possibly out of line for the way he treated her, this doesn’t seem to have anything to do with photography or filming the protest. Sorry, Hawk, but I don’t see anything here that makes me think he was persecuting a photographer. For all we know, she DID hit his police car.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I contacted the PR man for the schools, Troy Flint, and asked him about this. I was suspicious that there was action taken because the reporter was documenting misconduct by the students, since the schools seem to sanction and encourage these protests. I think this is the relevant question for the press to ask. I am now waiting for response to a Public Records Act request I made. Not sure if I was on track with that suspicion, but in any case, it seems very likely the cop hit this woman with his car, falsely arrested her, and wrongly took her video. And has a lot of anger. So the school district should at the least get him out of public contact.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Art Miohel could incite a nun to riot—–

  5. Anonymous says:

    Everything about this entire episode bothers me, but the confiscation of the newsgathering equipment from a credentialed member of the press is utterly unbelievable – and to think that the Oakland School District/ Police made copies of illegally confiscated private property to try and use to prosecute someone sounds like tactics the KGB or the Secret Police of some totalitarian state would employ. The same goes for “detaining” journalists – I thought there’s this thing called “Freedom of the Press” in this country? Apparently, the Oakland School District and this embarrassment of a Peace Officer didn’t get the message. I hope the Tribune and outraged citizens keep pressing to oust this cop – he’s an embarrassment to law enforcement, and the taxpayers should be ashamed to have someone who’s this incompetent around children.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I am a public servant myself (firefighter) and I know MANY cops who are not this way and some who are but generally when they are, they have a good reason. There seems to be nothing here that would indicate a “good reason”. And frankly there is NEVER a good reason to treat a citizen with such arrogance. Oh man do I detest arrogance. I am a chief officer and have many men under me. When I have to use discipline it is done from a position of quiet strength. They know that there is an authority issue and if they insist on chalenging it they will suffer the consequences but I don’t have to yeall and scream and demean them and inform them of my authority over them They already know it. Same deal here. If the woman needed to be arrested he should have shut his big fat filthy bazoo and done it. To treat the people he is supposed to be working FOR with such a total lack of decency is completely unacceptable! He should be fired or at a minimum demoted. He has the wrong idea of what a cop is supposed to be and clearly cannot be trusted to be trusted. If he will do this when he knows he is on camera, what is he doing when he is not? I say all of this as a huge conservative and major supporter of law enforcement. But some folks just have no business being in a position of authority.

  7. Roland says:

    Everyday people like yourself complain about the problems of our society and find the police as scapegoats to anything…in this case, a reporter whose biased story was to capture the part of the arrest where an officer lost his temper because she knew what she was doing to push his buttons (which a civilian can also do right?) and leave out the initial part of the story, then air it to the public, rally the cries of police brutality, and act as a martyr in this so-called police state. police are actually constrained by the public to a point where they CAN’T do anything anymore because of people like this reporter…they’re only as good as the people want to be. and they get crucified for doing their job…i really want to know how you and your protestor friends are supposed to live without them.

    last time i checked, they’re the ones out there dealing with the things you have never seen in your life and would not even want to lay a finger on or taste. again, You don’t have it in your blood to protect over the rest…because, frankly, you’re sheep…and they’re sheepdogs…sheep follow each other and sheepdogs protect you from the wolves…psk psk…THEY’RE OUT THERE! you call yourself 1%’s and revolutionaries…what better way but to rally others, put on a mask over your mouth and take pictures, documenting your “struggle” and putting them on a social networking site for your friends.

    if you gotta tackle a messed up system, play their game and get the credentials do it their way. then take them out of office and help the people. you trash an entire city and incur overtime on cops and firefighters and emts, and you STILL pay taxes for that in the end right???