Toronto police arrested a Toronto Star reporter, put him in a headlock and handcuffed him for taking pictures after a GO Transit officer was injured in a scuffle at Union Station, the Star reports. Canadian Journalists for Free Expression is calling for an investigation.
By Grant Buckler
Toronto police arrested a Toronto Star reporter, put him in a headlock and handcuffed him for taking pictures after a GO Transit officer was injured in a scuffle at Union Station, the Star reports.
Reporter Alex Consiglio was released after being placed in the back of a police cruiser, but given a $65 ticket for trespassing. His camera equipment and phone were initially confiscated, though they were returned when police released him. According to the Star report, Consiglio was arrested after taking a photo of the injured officer – who had a broken ankle – being put into an ambulance on the street outside the station, though he had earlier taken a photo on a station platform and then left the area when asked to do so.
The Star quoted Anne Marie Aikins, the Metrolinx transit organization’s media relations officer, as saying journalists are required to sign a waiver before taking pictures inside Union Station – although she admitted that members of the general public take photos inside the station without interference.She also said officers would try to remove anyone taking pictures in the area of an incident “so that people don’t get hurt.”
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Canadian Journalists for Free Expression issued a statement Monday expressing concern that Consiglio was arrested for simply doing his job and calling for a full investigation into the incident and additional training for officers on dealing with the media.
“The requirement that a journalist should get written, or any permission, from a Metrolinx media relations person is an unreasonable expectation when there is sudden breaking news. Given the need for immediacy in taking a photo of a sudden development the requirement that permission should be obtained is tantamount to not allowing photo coverage of a public interest story in a public place,” said CJFE board member and lawyer Peter Jacobsen in the statement. “Additionally, the use of force appears to be somewhat in excess of what was required according to the reports we have seen. Journalists must not suffer intimidation for doing their job.”