Saturday, October 08, 2011

Journalist arrested in Milwaukee for filming house fire

Milwaukee Police Dept. v. Clint Fillinger

Posted October 6th, 2011 by CMLP Staff
Threat Type: Criminal Charge
Date: 09/21/2011
Location: Wisconsin
Party Issuing Legal Threat: Party Receiving Legal Threat:
Milwaukee Police Dept. Clint Fillinger

On September 21, 2011, Clint Fillinger, a photojournalist, was arrested for resisting and obstructing an officer after police confronted Fillinger while he was attempting to film at the scene of a house firm in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Fillinger, a 68-year-old journalist with 45 years of experience, was filming from outside the area that officers had cordoned off with police tape, where several members of the public had also gathered.

Fillinger's raw video of the incident was published by his employer, Fox6 Now. The raw video shows two officers approaching Fillinger and demanding that he step back. The video appears to show Fillinger complying as he stated that he had a right to be there as a member of the public. The officers tell him that he must move for his own safety. Fillinger ultimately falls to the ground, dropping his camera, though the video does not show the cause. The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press reports that Fillinger was the only person asked to move away from the scene.

Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn told Fox6 the next day that he felt Fillinger was to blame, saying, "If the cameraman had simply complied with the instructions to back off from a working fire, none of this hullabaloo would be taking place." Fox6 posted the raw video of Flynn's statement on its website.

Several news associations – including the National Press Photographers Association’s Advocacy Committee, the Radio Television Digital News Association, and the Wisconsin News Photographers Association – have sent letters to Flynn demanding the charges be dropped and the officers involved be investigated and face disciplinary charges if necessary.