The post below was written by Matt Agorist and originally published at the Free Thought Project under the title “Watch the 1st Amendment Die as Journalist Arrested at Press Conference for Not Being Mainstream.” It details the January 30th arrests of Joey Lankowski, Kelly Patterson by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department.
At the time, Lankowski and Patterson, along with “King” Ron Mecklosky (all three of whom are on-air hosts of the ACAB Radio Las Vegas Podcast) were simply trying to attend a press briefing being held at the LVMPD headquarters building, regarding the latest shooting by a Metro officer. The purported reasons for the arrests was that NVCopBlock.org is not a “legitimate” media outlet.
If you watch the second video below, you will hear the LVMPD PIO representative actually claim that in order to qualify as such you need to be listed on some sort of federal registry and that there is a Nevada Revised Statute (which he failed to provide when asked numerous times) that was passed during the last legislative session requiring inclusion on that registry.
Of course, no such registry exists and even if it did any law requiring the inclusion of members of the media on such a list would pretty clearly be a violation of the right to a free press which is protected by the First Amendment. In spite of the claims by the LVMPD, both of the arrestees have a multi-year history of reporting on news as members of the press, both locally and nationally.
Incidentally, this is now the third time the LVMPD has illegally arrested people associated with Nevada Cop Block in violation of the First Amendment. Previously, in 2012, Patterson and four other individuals were charged with graffiti crimes for legally and peacefully protesting by writing on the sidewalk with sidewalk chalk. Patterson was also arrested in Nov. 2016 while legally filming an arrest by members of the LVMPD on Fremont Street. In both those instances, the charges were dropped before they ever went to trial.
Note: If you have videos, stories, upcoming events/protests, or personal interactions with the police (and/or “justice” system) that you would like to share, send them to us and we will do everything we can to bring it to the attention of the world. In addition, you can visit the Nevada Cop Block resources section for information and links to the rights of citizens when dealing with police, during which you should always be filming.
(This has been posted in its original form and no edits to the original text were made. Some links may have been added within the text.)
Watch the 1st Amendment Die as Journalist Arrested at Press Conference for Not Being Mainstream
If you are unsure over how the establishment feels about alternative media asking them questions, this video will clear that up.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. – First Amendment, U.S. Constitution
Las Vegas, NV — A rather disturbing situation unfolded in Las Vegas on Wednesday as two independent journalists—attempting to exercise their First Amendment right of the press—were arrested and cited for trespassing. Joey Lankowski, Kelly Patterson, and Ronald Mecklosky were at the Las Vegas police station attempting to cover a press conference about one of their officers shooting at a man for holding a cane.
Lankowski tells the Free Thought Project that he’d been in contact with the Metropolitan Police Department so he could get the details of another press conference over police shooting another man and attend it. However, according to Lankowski, officials from the department lied to him and refused to tell him when the actual press conference would take place and held it in secret on Monday.
On Wednesday, Lankowski eventually found out through a source that this new press conference would be held on Wednesday, so he, Mecklosky and Patterson grabbed their cameras and went down to the station.
The interaction was captured on multiple cameras and the video is nothing short of infuriating. As Lankowski enters the room in which dozens of other journalists are allowed, he is quickly approached by police who tell him he is not part of the media and must leave.
Clearly, these officers have forgotten their oaths they swore to uphold the constitution which protects Lankowski’s presence in that room to cover the event as media.
As the Public Information Officer approaches Lankowski, he begins degrading him and telling Lankowski that he is not a part of the media. To be clear, Lankowski is a journalist for Nevada Cop Block and also hosts a weekly podcast for the group. By all standards, what he is doing is being the media.
What’s more, the fact that the officer didn’t recognize this fact is irrelevant as his rule book, the constitution, guarantees this right.
Nevertheless, as other media outlets continue to fill the room, the officer tells Lankowski that he needs a “credentialed” media pass to be in this public space to report on a public press conference.
As Lankowski continues to resist leaving the press room, he is approached by more and more officers who all fail miserably at upholding their oath to the constitution.
Eventually, because Lankowski refused to be denied his First Amendment right, he was physically taken down, handcuffed, arrested, and cited for trespassing—on public property, in a press conference, doing his job as a journalist.
According to the the Police Department’s public information office, Lankowski was removed because he was not credentialed by them. To be clear, you do not need a press “credential” to take pictures or cover events in public places. Where Lankowski and the others were, is a public space.
However, because the police department gets to pick and choose the people who ask them questions, Lankowski was arrested.
Although they could not cite a Nevada statute that prohibited these independent journalists from covering the press conference, the department will likely produce some internal document that demands anyone allowed in must be first approved by the department.
Indeed, as we have seen before, independent journalists have been thrown out of LVMPD press conferences for simply questioning the official narrative on the Vegas shooting and actually catching them in lies.
Both Lankowski and Patterson were arrested and cited on Wednesday for trespassing as dozens of other media outlets who are accepted into the official club did the exact same thing they tried to do. If ever you were unsure of how the establishment feels about independent media, the video below should clear up any doubts.
When police officers get to pick and choose who gets to ask them questions, and deny people “credentials” for asking real questions, we have a problem. Transparency and accountability are the underpinnings of a free society and when public servants start kidnapping people for upholding these important measures, tyranny is not far behind.
Here is the angle from Patterson’s GoPro, showing the arrest from another angle.
If you think Lankowski and other independent media outlets should be able to attend these press conferences and peacefully ask questions just like the rest of the media, feel free to reach out to the LVMPD Public Information Office at (702) 828-4082 to let them know they should be.
Note: The LVMPD can also be reached via the following channels.
- Email: [email protected]
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/LasVegasMetro
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/LVMPD
- YouTube: www.youtube.com/user/LasVegasPolice
- Instagram: www.instagram.com/lvmpd
Cop Block is a decentralized project supported by a diverse group of individuals united by their shared goals of police accountability, education of individual rights and the dissemination of effective tactics to utilize while filming police.
We seek to highlight the double standard that some grant to those with badges. By documenting police actions – whether they are illegal, immoral or just a waste of time and resources – then calling the police stations involved (ideally while recording and then later sharing your conversation), we can work together to bring about transparency and have a real impact.
In addition to this direct pressure on police departments we want to be an educational resource on institutional changes that would curtail the common right-violations and unaccountability today by those with badges and a place to showcase different techniques, viewpoints and courses of action.
Is there a lawsuit on this or an appeal?
I looked for the LVPD “media credential policy” (should be unconstitutional similar to San Diego Police policy), but did not find on Google.
LVPD does issue “non gaming work cards” and I think applying for a journalists work card could open a can of worms the city attorney won’t want. If they issue one then it would be a tax on a right.
2006 O’GRADY v. Superior Court was settled in California and did not reach federal appeals, contains this:
“We decline the implicit invitation to embroil ourselves in questions of what constitutes “legitimate journalis[m].” The shield law is intended to protect the gathering and dissemination of news, and that is what petitioners did here. We can think of no workable test or principle that would distinguish “legitimate” from “illegitimate” news. Any attempt by courts to draw such a distinction would imperil a fundamental purpose of the First Amendment, which is to identify the best, most important, and most valuable ideas not by any sociological or economic formula, rule of law, or process of government, but through the rough and tumble competition of the memetic marketplace.”
The first court date on the citations is March 19th. So, neither one of those things would happen just yet.
They have no publicly viewable policy or process to apply for press access. Their “policy” is to only contact certain media outlets privately prior to the briefings, in order to exclude those they don’t like.