Reporters Threatened With Arrest After Filming President Grant’s Cottage Near A New York Prison

53d2c9932a01b.preview-620We have yet another case of law enforcement holding people for filming in public and threatening them with arrest. This one however is particularly curious. NewsChannel 13 reporter Mark Mulholland and a videographer were filming a story on Grant Cottage where President Ulysses S. Grant had come to the cottage to finish writing his memoirs. This year is the 129th anniversary of his death and the crew was filming costumed re-enactors were commemorating the anniversary. Due to breaking news, the crew had to return the next day to finish with the shots. They were then approached by a Lt. Dorn from the nearby Mt. McGregor Correctional Facility and told that they could not film without permission. What unfolded was a rule that seemed to be without any coherence as to who may take pictures at a historic site.

Dorn is heard saying “Excuse me. No filming.” The crew explains that they are just filming the cottage as a historic site. Dorn responds “It doesn’t matter. You’re on state property right now. You can’t film here. You gotta get permission through Albany to film.” The cottage shares land with the prison.

When Mulholland said he would move back up the mountain to the Grant Cottage state historic site where public visitors could be seen, Dorn then said that he would not allow him to do that: “You’re not up here for that. You’re up here for different purposes.”

Mulholland: (to the cameraman) “You’re rolling right?” (to Dorn) “You’re telling us we can’t visit a historic site?”

Dorn: “No. You’re going to have to run that through Albany.”

. . .

Dorn: “Look. I’m not going to go around with this you on this. You’re going to leave the property.”

Mulholland: “OK. We will. We will go up to the historic site.”

Dorn: “You cannot film up there.”

Mulholland: “We will go to the historic site and do our job.”

As Dorn says that he wants the state police called, another correctional employee used his car to block NewsChannel 13’s access to the historic site (while moving his car to allow other visitors to go through).

Mulholland asked “If I’m a member of the public and I’m taking pictures of Grant’s Cottage and there’s the facility right behind it, what do you do in that case?”

Dorn responded that “If we’re aware the facility is in the background, those photos will be confiscated.”

Later an official at the Department of Corrections said the station had to surrender its video.

The Department of Corrections later issued a statement that accused NewsChannel 13 of trespassing and that anyone on department property must ask permission to film or risk confiscation of their film. However, this is a historic site routinely visited and filmed by tourists.

The New York State Associated Press Association issued a statement that condemned the actions and noted “there are no prisoners on site and the prison is to close within days.”

The fact that this occurs on prison property distinguishes it from other cases of filming in public areas. The fact is that the legislature and courts have been entirely deferential to prison in such policies. When on prison property, the correctional officials are given sweeping authority. However, in this case, the prison includes a nearby historic site and there is no cognizable threat to prison security, particularly given the offer to film only the cottage. More importantly, this appears a case of selective enforcement where tourists regularly take pictures but the news crew was stopped. The obvious lack of consistency (and flexibility) by the prison is disturbing.

Source: Post Star

Kudos: Michael Blott

38 thoughts on “Reporters Threatened With Arrest After Filming President Grant’s Cottage Near A New York Prison”

  1. The issue is very simple

    “ there are no prisoners on site and the prison is to close within days.”


    The officers are lonely.
    No prisoners.
    Nobody visiting prisoners.
    No purpose.
    They need someone to be superior to.

    They don’t feel secure enough to forbid tourists to photograph or film.
    A film crew is a different matter. They can make a big deal out of that. A crew is an organised group that they can boss around.

    There is no reasonable purpose behind their officious small-mindedness.
    There are simply doing it ‘because they can’.

    They should be dismissed on the grounds of being egregious embarrassments to humanity.

  2. Ah! I got a comment in now.
    It seems that I can post a comment as long as I don’t mention anything about the guards 🙂
    I had no ‘bad’ words in the comments that got eaten. I’ll try again immediately after this one – assuming this gets in.

  3. Oh, Spinelli has found someone new to pick on and spew his one sided view of the world on….

  4. Many cops are cowards indeed. When I was putting up a legal sign with a permit and rent receipt, I called the cops when a water board sharing the lot objected & tried to stop me and knock it down. Soon there were 20 employees standing around as if water rates were too cheap in So Cal, some burly truck drivers, some office wallahs, some CEO types. The cop assumed he was there for them and arrested me for tresspassing before he would even look at my paperwork!

  5. guards with attitude treat visitors standing in line to go in to see incarcerated family members much worse than the officer treated the film maker. It’s not whether or not the guards have a duty to do, It’s their attitude that is counter-productive. (whether or not they are college graduates is irrelevant. For some the power just goes to their heads, Some are prejudiced and contemptuous “all in the line of duty.” of course).Let’s face it some wanted to be guards because it makes them feel big to be able to exercise power

  6. Jomo, “turnkeys?” How old are you? And, what is your experience? Have you done time? “Hack” is the nickname for correctional officers. Your stereotype simply doesn’t fit. There certainly are some that fit your description, but many more that don’t. The Federal BOP recruits college grads. Are you one?

  7. correctional officers , or turnkeys, are generally the most ignorant and arrogant of all law enforcement personnel. They have minimal education and very little training and yet they tend to think of themselves as police officers which they are not. They are simply security guards with badges.

    1. jomo – correctional officers do a job that most of us would be scared s**tless to do. However, they usually have a clear set of guidelines that they follow and if the filming or not filming falls within that, they will enforce that. Now, I do think this is stupid considering all the circumstances.

  8. Before my current life I was a photojournalist at a various newspapers, and occasionally encountered a cop or other badge wearing person that was not informed about the law. I was told to leave an area (while standing in a crowd that received no such order), that I would be arrested, or film confiscated. Most times a simple request for a supervisor or to give the cite for the law that authorized the action was enough to stop it. The one time I was almost arrested I made the statement about how my equipment was newspaper property, and asked the cop to please sign a short write-up I did in my notebook about the person, badge number, etc and that they were taking my equipment and arresting me, even though I had stated I did not believe they were following the law and their department policies. That stopped it in it’s tracks.

    The problem with far too much law enforcement these days is they are trained in all sorts of things, but talking and reason are not one of them. That’s the problem with hiring a bunch of people that want to be Spartans, not diplomats. Arrest is seen as the first and best option, not a last resort or admission of failure of talking.

  9. Yeah, that’s like when I went on holiday with friends from Britain to Yugoslavia in 1970. With Tito, they were more independent and freer that the rest of the Soviets but there were crossed out camera signs all over the place meaning ‘no photography’. Since the 9/11 scam it’s only gonna get worse.

  10. Anonymouly Yours

    I am gonna go on the side of the State Correctional Officer…. It shared land with a correctional facility…. Usually I am on the side of film in public anywhere you want…. The story they are doing on Grant maybe worthwhile…. But could you imagine people filming the prison just to figure out the weak spots are for escapes?

    It’s the states issue for building a correctional facility next to the cabin….
    The New York State Associated Press Association issued a statement that condemned the actions and noted “there are no prisoners on site and the prison is to close within days.” – JT

    The old codger is in a trance.

    The world is different for him now.

    He needs to pick up on that.

    Like Spinny & the Nyets.

  11. This is why God made rifles. Where do you folks live? Soviet Union? Nazi Germany? East Sedalia? Somebody needs to video the hell out of the outside of the so called prison and post the video on the internet. Then we need to put these guards in Grant’s Tomb. Dead or alive they need to be in a tomb. Friggin punks. Why do Americans put up with this Nazi state apCray?

  12. Anonomously Yours, anybody can post a sign saying “no filming”, that does not make it illegal unless there is a statute to back it up. When I enter many commercial buildings there are also signs asking people not to photograph or film, but I do not believe those signs carry the force of law (beyond being asked to leave/Tresspass). Again, perhaps I am wrong.

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