The loud beeping you hear is the sound of the Atlanta Police Department backtracking in a hurry, and declaring the handcuffing and arresting of a WCGL/Atlanta reporter and photog at City Hall was “a misunderstanding.” The original claim from arresting officers was that GCL reporter Renee Starzyk and photog Jeff Thorn were “obstructing” by entering a public area of City Hall, while working a story on billing problems at the city’s Department of Watershed Management.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports today the arresting officer, E.R. Murray, was “told to release the pair after the city’s Legal Department determined they were allowed in the building. Neither was charged.” The capture of the whole thing by Thorn on tape certainly didn’t help matters for the city and its officers. Deputy Police Chief Carlos Banda tells the AJC, “allegedly, there’s a source that told (private) security and the police officer that City Hall was closed except for people paying water bills, and nobody else was supposed to be in City Hall.”
Schwaid was firm on his understanding of public access: “If the public is there, you are allowed to be there.”
You can read the story on ajc.com.