This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: August 30, 2008 - On Aug. 27, Denver police arrested Asa Eslocker of ABC news as he and his camera crew stood on a public sidewalk outside the Brown Palace hotel, trying to interview senators and vips leaving a fundraiser. He was working on a story about the influence of lobbyists on elected officials. Eslocker was charged with trespassing, failing to respond to a lawful order and interfering with a police officer.
Video of the incident shows a cigar-smoking police sergeant, backed up by other officers, grabbing Eslocker by the neck and twisting his arm behind his back.
Lawyers for ABC are asking that all charges be dropped. They argue that the reporter was on a public sidewalk, filming an item of public interest with the full protection of the First Amendment. A police spokesman told the AP that one event should not tarnish the police conduct at the entire convention.
In Minneapolis last week, police confiscated a videocamera, still camera and a laptop from videographers from the Glass Bead Collective, a New York group that records incidents of police misconduct. The videographers were stopped after midnight while walking near a rail yard. Officers raised homeland security concerns because they were near a transportation facility.
Later in the week, Minneapolis police returned the equipment but defended the seizure as reasonable because they were near a transportation center late at night.
The two incidents illustrate the difficulty that journalists and political protesters are encountering near big political events or presidential appearances.