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Local Reporter and Photographer Detained by Chicago PD: ‘Your First Amendment Rights Have Limitations’

Chicago police took WGN reporter Dan Ponce and WMAQ photographer Donte Williams into custody on Saturday, saying the two were “creating a scene” outside of Mt. Sinai Hospital.

Ponce and Williams, who were part of a media contingent covering the fatal shooting of a six-year-old girl, were handcuffed by an officer after they refused to move farther away from the hospital (video above). “You first amendment rights can be terminated if you create a scene,” the officer told them. “Your first amendment rights have limitations.”

In a statement released yesterday, the Chicago Police Department said Ponce and Williams were taken into custody because they attempted to enter the hospital:

The Chicago Police Department did not charge anyone with criminal trespass in connection with yesterday’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.

Ponce and Williams say they never went into the hospital.

“What upset me about last night was this was not an active crime scene,” Ponce told Chicago radio station WLS on Sunday. “This is in front of a hospital. The reporters and photographers were standing on the median sidewalk when the officer started yelling at us, telling us to get further away. We decided to take a stand.”

[via WMAQ]

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