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.

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