28 August 2008

(Arresting) An Inconvenient Reporter

From Powerline, this is extremely disturbing:

Police in Denver arrested an ABC News producer today as he and a camera crew were attempting to take pictures on a public sidewalk of Democratic senators and VIP donors leaving a private meeting at the Brown Palace Hotel.


A police official later told lawyers for ABC News that Eslocker is being charged with trespass, interference, and failure to follow a lawful order. He also said the arrest followed a signed complaint from the Brown Palace Hotel.


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.

(If possible, watch the video linked from the ABC report and note the five police officers that were apparently needed to arrest a single reporter.)

To be fair, if indeed the hotel (and/or the Democrat bigwigs holding their meetings there) had a valid complaint in that the reporter was shooting video from a privately-owned sidewalk, then the police action taken wasn't completely out of line. A bit extreme, perhaps, but not out of line.

But. I took the liberty of looking up the real estate records for the Brown Palace Hotel in Denver. The following is an image (taken directly from the Denver Real Property Records site, here) of the boundaries of the Brown Palace's property lot overlaid with a 2006 aerial photo (click to enlarge to new window):

(Click to enlarge to new window)

For clarity, I also pulled up a satellite image from Google Maps (link here):

(Click to enlarge to new window)

It sure looks to me like the official boundary of the hotel's property does not include the sidewalk. In that case... I don't see that the hotel had any right even to tell the reporter to leave, much less to have him arrested. Possibly if he was harassing the guests, there'd be some charge of, well, harassment or assault or something, but other than that it seems to me a case of suppression of the press.

Or, well, I guess the First Amendment might only apply to people who agree with the Democrats. <shrug> Silly me, thinking it applies to everybody.

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