Milwakee: journalist arrested despite the id badge

Kristyna Wentz-Graff was handcuffed and taken into custody when covering protest rally.The protest march took places last Wednesday and was linked with Occupy Wall Street movement. The journalist and 2 students were arrested after failing to follow police calls to stay off the street according to statement made by Milwaukee Police Spokeswoman Anne Schwartz. Journal Sentinel (Milwakee daily newspaper Wentz-Graff works for) Editor Martin Kaiser contradicted police statement saying the photographer stayed off the street, was not part of the protest and was wearing press photo identification badge clearly displayed. The protest turnout was rather small, up to 50 people despite the efforts to encourage Univeristy of Wisconsin students to join.
Wentz-Graff was released later same day and no charges were set, she was also not provided with reason for the arrest. The incidedent raised the issue of Milwakee police overdoing their job and preventing media from covering important events. Another journalist Clint Fillinger was arrested in September when covering house fire. Police Chief Edward Flynn promised to meet with media representatives and go over policies.
The whole story seems blown out of proportions to me. Arrest footage available on Youtube shows the handcuffing on the street and not on the pavement which suggests the photographer ignored or hasn’t heard the warnings. In this case she might have been arrested for her own safety and doesn’t really matter if she was protester or journalist. Interestingly police says they only figured she was a journalist after arriving at the station. I can see the badge on the video but it’s not particularly flashy and the fact that it’s worn on the neck strap might have caused the id badge to turn over and show reverse side. In case they want my advise I’d say wear the badge on the arm strap so it can be visible even when you have cameras hanging off your neck and it cannot turn to reverse side on its own; also make sure that it’s flashy or at least the word ‘PRESS’ is printed in large font so it doesn’t look like a ski pass.

ID badge

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