Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Cops Bust a Journalist, Chase One into the Bushes on MLK Day

Journalist Rachel Gay Films Protesters
Courtesy Hive Swarm Independent Media
Of all days to chase and arrest journalists:

Martin Luther King Day, 2017.

Of all places to overreact to civil disobedience on MLK Day:

Memphis, Tennessee.
Tankers Line Up as Police Block Street Scene    Image by Moore Media
Independent journalist Rachel Gay of Hive Swarm News & Media was covering an environmental protest when police arrested her.  Then they chased her associate Aaron Murphy about a third of a mile, across a railroad track and into some bushes where he hid with his equipment for about an hour until things cooled down.  Police also arrested a citizen observer as he live-streamed on Facebook.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

When Pictures are Lie-Breakers, and Watching the Watchers in the New Wild, Wild West of Journalism

Journalist Rachel Gay Films Pipeline Protester
Image by Hive Swarm Independent Media

Cops Bust Journalist, Chase Another into the Bushes in MLK Day Media Block

If Hunter S. Thompson and Tom Wolfe brought us “gonzo journalism” in the 1960s, are we in the new era of “gonzo,” of gathering info while embedded as participants, and of telling it like it is without equalizing competing opinions – such as the Earth is in trouble vs. the Earth is flat?

Maybe “Wild, Wild West” of journalism would be more like it.   Corporate media is in decline, shrinking in size, distracted by celebrity news, spin-fed by the powers and threatened by politicians looking to shift blame.  Citizens depend on other citizens with cell phones to post on social media.  We also depend on the few independent media that exist around the edges -- even if they risk getting arrested or have to run away and hide in the bushes to escape capture by the police.

Such was the case in Memphis, Tennessee, ironically on the occasion of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and in the unlikely location of an oil refinery. 

(Video of Watchers Arrests)

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Journalist Among 12 Arrested at Valero Refinery

RIGHT: Click to see aerial view 
of Valero site shortly after
protesters arrived.  Images by Aaron Murphy. 

Who Will Watch the Watchers?
YouTube Channel

Memphis police arrested an independent journalist after blocking out local TV and newspaper reporters, and they arrested at least one observer who was taking pictures from the sidewalk in front of the Valero oil refinery on MLK Day Jan. 16.  

Ten other persons were arrested, including seven who chained themselves to each other and embedded their arms in five concrete-filled barrels.  The other five, including journalist Rachel Gay and Mid-South Peace and Justice Center organizer Paul Garner, filmed the police or stood on the sidewalk.  Organized as Arkansas Rising, the seven called themselves water protectors and were protesting the 440-mile Diamond Pipeline which is to run from Cushing, Oklahoma, to Valero’s Memphis site. 

Posted Jan. 17, 2017:
"Memphis Police Arrest Journalist, Observers at Valero Protest"
Posted Jan. 18, 2017:
"Raw Video from Valero Protest, Citizens Aghast as Police Arrest Journalist and a Citizen"
Posted Jan. 19, 2917:
Aerial view of Valero refinery terminal shortly after noon Jan. 16, 2017, MLK Day.
Jessica Resnicek asks for witnesses
to come to Valero Refinery site
--Photo by Paul Garner

Memphis Police Department Policy and Procedures on Filming Police

The five were charged with disorderly conduct and blocking a passageway, which  MPD has a record of using as charges against people who take their picture.  Filming police is protected by the First Amendment, and MPD’s policy and procedures manual instructs police to keep hands off people who film or criticize police. 

Charges against two persons were dismissed upon their initial court appearances.  The other 10 have bonded out, the last of them Wednesday night,  and apparently have mid-February court dates.   

The attorney representing three women who were arrested stated on Tuesday night (Jan. 17) that the three had been detained in a holding area, without food, beds or blankets, for more than 24 hours.  More information at Arkansas Rising Facebook page.

Seema Rasoul power-salutes as police arrest her
"for practicing my First Amendment rights,"
she wrote on Facebook.  --Photo by Andrea Morales
Restricting but not totally blocking two Valero driveways, the water protectors were chained to each other through pipes embedded in five 55-gallon drums filled with concrete and weighing hundreds of pounds.  While police had arrested the five observers by early afternoon, it was about 5:30 when the Memphis Fire Department apparently extracted the seven from the barrels.   Since police had shut off Riverport Road in front of the Valero site and even closed Exit 9 on I-55, we have not yet seen footage showing how the police and MFD went about getting the seven out of the barrels and arresting them.

Police and the fire department presumably photographed or videoed the extraction and arrest of the chained protesters.  A body-worn camera on one of the protestors was removed and confiscated by police, according to Arkansas Rising.  MPD has said almost 1,000 body-worn cameras are in use. 

Garner of Memphis and Gay, of Hive Swarm News & Media in Rutledge, MO, were arrested while taking video of police.  In Garner’s video from his cell phone, police walk up to him and grab him without warning or with no instruction, order or admonition.  Gay was arrested with her camera while she stood on the sidewalk.  

Memphis Fire Department personnel
extract protesters from barrels.  --MPD Photo
Several other people were recording police with cell phones or pro cameras but were not arrested.  

New videos will be released as we receive more footage, and we will update information in this post.