The National Press Photographers Association (NPPA) has awarded its annual Clifton C. Edom Award to Brian Storm, founder of multimedia production company MediaStorm, the photojournalists’ organization announced today. The award, named for the first head of the photojournalism program at the University of Missouri at Columbia and the founder of the awards now known as Pictures of the Year International, recognizes an individual who inspires and motivates members of the photojournalism community.
NPPA also announced several other awards.
The Joseph A. Sprague Memorial Award was awarded to two recipients: photographer Charles W. “Chick” Harrity, a former contributor to US News & World Report, and Dennis Dimick, executive environment editor and interim director of photography at National Geographic Magazine.
Jim Estrin, senior photographer at The New York Times and editor of the LENS blog will receive the Kenneth P. McLaughlin Award of Merit, given to those who render “continuing outstanding service in the interests of news photography.” John Harrington, photographer and writer on business issues, received the J. Winton Lemen Fellowship Award for service in the interests of press photography.
A full list of winners and honors can be found on the website NPPA.org.
Stolarik was charged with obstruction and resisting arrest after police told him to stop taking pictures at the scene of a street altercation. Solarik was on assignment at time for The New York Times. He identified himself to police as a journalist, and continued taking pictures.
He was then arrested and held overnight. NPPA and The New York Times protested Stolarik’s arrest as an act of intimidation–and a violation of his civil rights.
According to NPPA, New York Times attorney George Freeman is calling on the NYPD to “objectively investigate” Stolarik’s arrest. “We are fully confident that if they look at the facts, they will find that the officers who blocked, intimidated and assaulted Mr. Stolarik acted inappropriately and violated NYPD guidelines,” Freeman told NPPA.
Freelance videographer Philip Datz has sued Suffolk County (New York) and one of its police officers in federal court for violation of his constitutional rights over an encounter last July that ended in Datz’s arrest. He is seeking unspecified damages, and a court order to bar the Suffolk County police from interfering with journalists.
Datz, who contributes to Stringer News Service to provide footage for local TV news broadcasts, was shooting the scene of an arrest of a criminal suspect on a public street in Bohemia, New York last July 29 when Sgt. Michael Milton approached Datz and repeatedly ordered him to “go away.” The scene took place in public view. Datz asked where he could continue filming, but Milton said “no place” and told Datz he would “get locked up” if he didn’t leave.
After Datz moved farther down the street and continued recording, Milton arrested him, allegedly injuring Datz’s shoulder in the process. According to the lawsuit, police handcuffed Datz to a desk at a police station, and held him for two hours before charging him with “obstructing governmental administration.”
Prosecutors dismissed the charges in August, Datz says in the lawsuit.
Datz recorded the encounter with Sgt. Milton on this video, which Datz says is unedited:
In his civil claim, filed today in US District Court in Manhattan, Datz claims that his arrest and detention “was not a rogue event. Suffolk County police officers have a longstanding and ongoing pattern of unlawfully interfering with the recording of police activity conducted in public view.” Datz cites more than a dozen other past incidents where police allegedly prevented him from making video recordings of police activity in public.
Datz alleges that Sergeant Milton violated his First Amendment right to record official police activity in a public location, his Fourth Amendment right protecting him from unlawful search and seizure of his property (namely his video recorder), and his Fourteenth Amendment protection against unlawful arrest.
Datz is asking the court to declare that his constitutional rights were, in fact, violated by Milton and Suffolk County. He is also compensatory and punitive damages, a court order barring the county from interfering with the rights of its citizens and press, and a court order to compel the police department to implement a First Amendment training policy for its police officers.
Datz filed suit with the support of the New York Civil Liberties Union and the National Press Photographers Association.
A spokesperson for the Suffolk County police department declined to comment about the lawsuit, citing a department policy against commenting on pending litigation.
In this video of the incident, the arresting officer says, “Your First Amendment rights can be terminated if you create a scene. Your First Amendment rights have limitations.” The journalists asked how they were creating a scene, and the arresting officer responded, “Your presence is creating a scene.”
(Note: NBC, which owns this video, may run a short advertisement before it plays)
The journalists, a radio reporter and TV cameraman, were held in a police vehicle and released after ten minutes without charges, according to RCFP.
National Press Photographers Association attorney Mickey Osterreicher, who has been kept busy lately reading the US Constitution to police departments all over the country, sent a letter of protest to the Chicago Superintendent of Police. Osterreicher wrote that it isn’t the duty of police officers “to decide what is appropriate news coverage of any story.
“It is apparent that the two journalists were not charged because…there was no criminal trespass and your officers’ overreaction by detaining them in a catch-and-release manner only served to prevent them from carrying out their professional and lawful function,” Osterreicher wrote. “It was nothing less than a blatant disregard of the First and Fourth Amendment.” (The Fourth Amendment protects citizens from unlawful search and seizure by police.)