More grist for the mill in the battle against the “enemies of the people.” Denver reporter Susan Greene, previously honored by the ACLU for her reporting on social injustice, ended up handcuffed in the back of a police car for photographing an altercation on a public street, involving a man, naked save for a loin cloth, sitting on the sidewalk surrounded by Denver police. When she began asking questions and taking pictures, she was told she was out of line. Colorado Independent:
Greene was taking pictures with her smart phone. The cops told her she couldn’t. She explained it was a public sidewalk and that, according to the Supreme Court’s reading of the First Amendment, she can take all the pictures she wants in a public place. One cop then said — and this was amazing both in its ignorance of the law and, I’ll concede, in its speed of reply — that she was violating HIPAA rules by taking photos of a mostly naked guy.
The cop was wrong, of course, in about a half-dozen ways — HIPAA rules? Seriously? He could have made a better case for spitting on the sidewalk. That didn’t stop him from detaining Greene for obstruction, slapping on the cuffs, roughly twisting her arm while insisting she was resisting the officers, advising her to act more ladylike. For the record, and in what should be obvious to anyone, Greene wasn’t interested in photos of the man in question or anything that would invade his privacy. She wanted photos of the cops surrounding the naked guy. And that was the issue.
This is no story of cops facing danger, as they too often do. This is no story of split-second judgment in which mistakes are inevitably made. This was the story of a reporter doing her job and cops going to extraordinary measures to prevent her from doing her job, which, they should know, is protected both by the Constitution and by state law.
Reporters and news organizations are under assault. Just today, for the nth time, Trump disparaged both the New York Times and the Washington Post, “Twitter is getting rid of fake accounts at a record pace. Will that include the Failing New York Times and propaganda machine for Amazon, the Washington Post, who constantly quote anonymous sources that, in my opinion, don’t exist – They will both be out of business in 7 years!”
The cultural divide is widening, in no small measure because Trump keeps beating out the constant tom tom refrain of “fake news, fake news,” that being any story that he personally disagrees with or that makes him look bad. The truth content of any given piece is not the criteria for good or bad reporting anymore, but rather whether it conforms to Trump’s tribal dogma or to reality, two concepts in diametric opposition. Consequently it is truth itself that is under siege, and reporters on the front lines are getting the brunt of it.
It would be nice to think that the harassment of this reporter in Denver was an anomaly, but in the wake of the Capital Gazette murders and Trump’s relentless dirge of anti-media negativity, it’s just another rock on the pile. Expect a lot more.