Sunday, May 08, 2011

Officials Threaten Chattanooga Press

Reporting on the recent tornado damage in Southeast Tennessee draws a strange response, according to the Chattanooga Times Free Press:

Last Thursday, one of our reporters, Kate Harrison, was following volunteers cleaning up debris in the heavily damaged Apison area when she was confronted by three veteran, high-ranking public officials who ordered her to stop taking photographs. The officials — Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Hammond, Chattanooga Police Chief Bobby Dodd and Hamilton County’s director of emergency services, Don Allen — clearly should have known that Harrison’s work was constitutionally protected. That they could occupy such high positions and not know, or care about, or respect the nation’s First Amendment rights boggles the mind.

Harrison also was commanded by emergency services spokeswoman Amy Maxwell not to publish any of the photographs she had taken, and later was threatened with arrest. (We published one of Harrison’s photos.)

All these actions were an unconstitutional infringement on Harrison’s and this newspaper’s right and ability to serve the vital functions of a free press."

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