Submitted by Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger
Richmond, Va photographer, Ian Graham, must be wondering where he was this past Monday as he was arrested by local police for trespassing on a city street. Graham, who was photographing police arresting demonstrators in the Occupy Richmond protest, was told by police he was trespassing as he politely stood near a public crosswalk recording the goings on with his camera. Police claim they told Graham he could take photos but only in the designated “media area,” which was, of course, far from the scene of the arrests.
Graham was detained for the apparent “crime” of walking and photographing police from a public street. It’s more likely he was arrested in retaliation for questioning police about why he was unable to traverse the street and perform an obviously legal action. He was held at the Public Safety Building for about thirty minutes and then released on a summons.
Eight other people were arrested during the 1:00 a.m raid of the Occupy Richmond encampment. Camping out in solidary with the Occupy Wall Street movement since October 15th, the demonstrators were told they were now trespassing in violation of a city ordinance prohibiting them from being present in the public park after dark. Boy, that took almost three weeks for police to figure out.
The Virginia ACLU is defending Graham who is part owner of RVA Magazine which publishes weekly and is distributed free of charge — or at least at no cost. For his part Graham is nonplussed by the misdemeanor charges. “The freedom of the press is not constrained to a box or some zone that the police inhabit,” he said. He added, “We as the press have the right and responsibility to cover the police during whatever they are doing on public property.”
The arrest occurred at Kanawha Plaza in the heart of Richmond’s financial district. That’s not particularly important until you remember that just a few blocks away down Broad Street is venerable St. John’s Church. There in March of 1775, another Virginian expressed much the same sentiment as Graham’s. I ‘m a little fuzzy on the name – Henry sounds right for the last name – but I’m in good company with the guardians of the peace here in Richmond. They don’t remember him at all.
Source: Richmond Times-Dispatch
~Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger