Reporter detained while covering Bridgeport demonstration

Reporter detained while covering Bridgeport demonstration



BRIDGEPORT — Eleven people were arrested, and a news reporter detained following a demonstration Thursday night to mark the second anniversary of a police officer fatally shooting an unarmed 15-year-old boy.

Ten of those arrested were charged with inciting a riot, interfering with police and second-degree breach of peace.

They were released after posting bond.

Hearst Connecticut Media Reporter Tara O’Neill was handcuffed and taken to the Police Department is a squad car while taking video of the scene from the sidewalk on Fairfield Avenue. She was later released without any charges.

In video of the scene O’Neill is clearly heard identifying herself as a news reporter before she was taken into custody.

“All 11 of us are home safe. Thank y’all. I love y’all. We love y’all. I don’t got much words but power to the people,” Kerry Ellington, one of those arrested, later posted on Facebook. “The system protects the local police collective bargaining agreement, the police union contracts, and the system values it over black and brown lives… The system needs to be held accountable on a local, statewide and federal level. On all levels. State sanctioned violence must end. It’s not okay.”

Police Chief Armando Perez did not immediately return calls for comment.

Police on Friday afternoon released a summary of the incident report.

“At approximately 8:10 pm the remaining protesters at Walgreens became increasingly agitated and threw a bottle at officers on scene,” the report said. “Officers stayed in position and looked for recognizable Bridgeport community members who could assist in a dialogue. No one was visible. Another glass object was thrown at an officer, and the crowd remained agitated and yelling obscenities at the police officers.

“For public safety purposes, BPD informed the unruly protesters that they had five minutes to disperse due to the unruly assembly,” the report continued. “The crowd did not comply and continued to be unruly and grew louder. Officers moved in fairly quickly to maintain safety and detained 12 individuals. All of the individuals detained we arrested because they did not comply or disperse.

“While at BPD headquarters, an arresting officer was advised that one of the detainees was a member of the press. The reporter wearing plain street clothes and no clearly visible identifying markers other than an ID name badge was released without a summons, as she was not part of the organizers,” the summary continued.

Arrested were: Ellington, of New Haven, Thomas Bostian, of New Haven, Britney Brevard, of New Haven, Jenna Fu, of Bridgeport, Kiana McDavid, of Hartford, Sam Morbidelli, of New Haven, Kacey Perkins, of Fairfield, Sarah Pimenta, of Milford, Brenna Regan, of Fairfield, Maria Sandoval of New Haven and Michael Merli of Bridgeport.

“The CDNA and its member papers across the state place its full support in Tara O’Neill and CDNA Member, Hearst Connecticut Media, Chris VanDeHoef, executive director of the Connecticut Daily Newspapers Association. “Arresting a reporter who is covering a public protest, on a public sidewalk, shows a blatant disregard for the First Amendment. The city of Bridgeport Police Department needs to evaluate how it trains its officers on interacting with a working reporter while on duty. Arresting a working reporter for covering police actions has a chilling effect on the First Amendment. We praise Ms. O’Neill and her dogged reporting and hope the City of Bridgeport works harder to appreciate our nation’s First Amendment Rights.”

Bruno Matarazzo, president of the Connecticut chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, issued the following statement in response to Bridgeport police arresting Connecticut Post reporter Tara O’Neill while she covered a protest:

“The fact that Bridgeport police found it appropriate to arrest a reporter is disturbing. Tara O’Neill was reporting on Thursday’s protest to write a news story. She was not a participant, and identified herself as a reporter when an officer handcuffed her. The fact that someone can be arrested in Bridgeport for the lawful exercise of a First Amendment right is chilling.”

Negron was shot by Bridgeport Police Officer James Boulay on May 9, 2017, after a brief pursuit in a stolen vehicle, according to a report by Waterbury State’s Attorney Maureen Platt. She said Negron had turned the wrong way down a one-way street and put the vehicle in reverse as Boulay approached and pulled open the driver’s side door. Platt said the door hit Boulay and he fired his gun into the vehicle, fatally shooting Negron and injuring his passenger. Boulay was cleared of any criminal wrongdoing by Platt.

This article is republshed from the Connecticut Post with special permission from Hearst Connecticut Media. It was originally published at www.ctpost.com


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