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Home  >  Topics  >  Media Relations

March 20, 2012
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Video: Chicago police detain journalists

Hospital security called police, concerned about trespassers

By PoliceOne Staff

CHICAGO — A tense situation broke out between police and journalists covering a news story about a child killed in a shooting Saturday night.

Police said hospital security, concerned about trespassers, called them to the facility where the girl was taken.

Photographer Donte Williams and WGN Reporter Dan Ponce argued with police on a median in the center of a road outside the hospital, where hospital had earlier staff asked them to move, according to NBC Chicago.

After an argument, police handcuffed Williams and Ponce and held them for about 10 minutes. The arresting officer is heard saying that First Amendment rights "could be terminated."

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WGN TV said the journalists conducted themselves professionally and were not antagonistic, but police disputed that, saying hospital security told them the media had tried to gain entry into a secure area of the hospital.

Williams and Ponce claim they did not enter the hospital.

Police released the following statement about the incident:

“The Chicago Police Department did not charge anyone with criminal trespass in connection with today's incident, which involved the unfortunate and senseless loss of a young child.  We removed two individuals from the hospital at the request of hospital security guards, who asserted that the individuals had tried to go past them into secure and private areas of the hospital. The security guards declined to press charges and the individuals were released. 

Our members were attempting to protect and respect both the grieving family members of the child, and the memory of the child herself during a very stressful time for all parties involved.

As always, we will carefully review the allegations in the event further action is warranted.”

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