GOP SENATE CAMPAIGN ‘ARRESTS’ JOURNALIST…. I’ve occasionally seen items that characterize Alaska as being like “a whole different country.” It would have to be, since in the United States, Senate campaigns don’t try to take journalists into custody.
The editor of the Alaska Dispatch website was arrested by U.S. Senate candidate Joe Miller’s private security guards Sunday as the editor attempted to interview Miller at the end of a public event in an Anchorage school.
Tony Hopfinger was handcuffed by the guards and detained in a hallway at Central Middle School until Anchorage police came and told the guards to release Hopfinger.
Hopfinger has not been charged but the owner of the Drop Zone, the private security firm that’s been providing Miller’s security, accused Hopfinger of trespassing at the public event, a town hall sponsored by the Miller campaign.
I’m not a lawyer, but I don’t see how it’s possible for a member of the media to be “trespassing” at an event open to the public, and held on public property.
I wasn’t there, and not surprisingly, accounts vary on exactly what transpired. Based on a variety of accounts, Hopfinger sought comment from Miller about allegations of professional misconduct, which the extremist candidate refuses to address before the election. Miller walked away, and his private security team, all wearing radio earphones, quickly surrounded the reporter. Feeling threatened, Hopfinger reportedly pushed one of the guards away, though the man who was shoved was not injured.
At that point, according to accounts, guards grabbed Hopfinger and placed him in steel handcuffs. The private security team also grabbed Hopfinger’s camera, and according to the reporter, a recorded portion of his “arrest” had been deleted, though Miller’s guards, who refused to be identified, denied erasing anything.
And just to make this truly extraordinary, when other media professionals on hand for the event tried to cover the incident, Miller’s private security team tried to prevent them from talking to Hopfinger — and threaten to “arrest” them, too. The guards also said photographs in the public hallway at the public event were prohibited, though this chilling shot was taken anyway.
The right-wing Miller campaign issued a statement blaming Hopfinger for the incident, but neither the campaign nor the bizarre candidate were willing to answer questions about what transpired. Hopfinger, meanwhile, was released from handcuffs when local police arrived, and at this point, no charges have been filed against anyone.
Miller, a fringe lawyer, is running on a platform premised on his alleged love of the Constitution. He may want to re-read that part about the Bill of Rights.
And in the larger context, I can’t help but wonder: is this what the Tea Party crowd has in mind for America’s future? In their version of “limited government,” should we expect extremists candidates to hire private security forces with the power to detain reporters who ask candidates about their background?
Is this their vision of American “freedom”?