13WHAM Statement Regarding Reporters Being Detained

All of us at 13WHAM are concerned about the events that occurred last night during the protest in downtown Rochester. We certainly understand the sensitivities of the Rochester Police Department to the potential for the protest to turn ugly.

A group of reporters, including some from other media organizations, was standing in the street recording a woman who was loudly voicing her concerns. Police approached and arrested the woman. The group of reporters then moved to the sidewalk and continued reporting live via Facebook. Without warning, 13WHAM reporters Carlet Cleare and Justin Carter were handcuffed by officers and led away. Carlet and Justin were the only African American journalists in the group.

We do thank RPD for quickly recognizing that this was an inappropriate way to handle the situation and 13WHAM appreciates the public apology issued by both Chief Michael Ciminelli and Mayor Lovely Warren. We encourage further dialogue with law enforcement to better identify reporters in the field to avoid a situation like this.

As a news organization, we are continuing to investigate the police handling of the situation and will have further dialogue on the issue with the city in the coming days. While we understand and value the importance of the police in our communities, we are also very protective of our First Amendment Rights as free journalists. No society can be fully secure if journalists cannot freely report on important events that affect the people of a community.

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