Philly Civil Affairs Police surround OpEdNews.com
reporter, Cheryl Biren
In response to the withdrawal of charges, Hetznecker explained, "Based on my investigation it was clear that she was not in a position that they claimed she was and therefore should not have been arrested. We now have clear evidence of the police overreaching in arresting Cheryl Biren."
Photo taken by Cheryl Biren shortly
before she was arrested.
Hetznecker added, "Now as to what happens with the rest of my clients as we move forward, we are in the process of reviewing further discovery that has been received and I don't want to further comment about that until I've reviewed it and discussed it with my clients."
Asked to comment on the arrest and media coverage of it, Noam Chomsky, in an interview on my radio show, said, "...
When asked if the District Attorney had anything to say with respect to the withdrawal of charges, Attorney Hetznecker replied, "I think their position was that they reviewed the evidence and based on the evidence and the confirmation that she is, in fact, a reporter - that was enough for them to withdraw charges. What went into their thinking about that I did not really inquire nor did they share, but I think that the evidence based on the review of the video speaks for itself that she is clearly there as a reporter and she is covering the event as a photojournalist."
He continued, "I think that is an unfortunate development that has been a pattern and practice that has been adopted by many municipalities throughout the country whether it's in Pittsburgh or in New York during the convention or here in Philly in the conventions in 2000, there seems to be a real effort on the part of police and authorities to eliminate or to discredit or to undermine the independent media documenting an event involving a political protest. It's unfortunately the trend in a very dangerous development involving first amendment rights not only of protesters but of those who are trying to convey the coverage and convey the message the protesters bring."
On the Rob Kall Bottom-Up Radio Show, attorney Hetznecker asked Noam Chomsky, "...Given all... the accounts... chronicled by journalists of the federal government and local authorities' attempt to undermine dissent in this country, Professor Chomsky, do you have a comment about that development and what you've seen over the course of the last 30 or 40 years... with respect to those events and the war on dissent so to speak?"
Professor Chomsky replied, "Well, the war on dissent is permanent. No power system wants to tolerate dissent. I mean that's kind of like a sociopolitical universal... Now, how power systems respond to this depends on their nature. Internally, to the United States there has always been government and corporate efforts to block dissent and the history is pretty violent and brutal. The United States has probably the most violent labor history of any industrial society."
"Likewise, at the Democratic National Convention in Denver, several journalists were arrested in 2008 and most notably in the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis, St. Paul, where Amy Goodman and her crew were subjects of an arrest, a false arrest, by the authorities there. And, again, I think there is a trend of marginalizing challenges to power in the public domain and clearly where there is a rather large scale demonstration, the police seem to be unfettered in their decisions to arrest independent journalists and charge them and oftentimes seize their film.""During the 60s and 70s as you know, I'm sure, a secret government program, COINTELPRO, which iniitally targeted - it was an FBI run program, a national political police program that targeted originally, of course, communists, but it expanded into the 60s to include the entire new left, the black movement, the women's movements and so on and it was no joke. It was finally terminated under court order in the mid 70s, but then other forms develop and as you describe power systems learn. They learn from what has worked and what hasn't worked and they adapt the tactics, they make it more sophisticated. I think what you describe now is bad, shouldn't be tolerated."Later in the radio show, attorney Paul Hetznecker added, "...doing a survey of what has happened over the course of the last few years, it's important to note some of the things that have occurred in large demonstrations that infringe upon the right of the press to independently document the events as they unfold. ...in Pittsburgh in September in protests against the G20 Summit journalists were arrested. In fact at the University of Pittsburgh, it was documented that there were several student journalists that were rounded up in conjunction with the protesters and were arrested despite the fact that they had identified themselves as journalists."
Cheryl Biren expressed gratitude for Mr. Hetznecker and his "passion for first amendment rights." Adding, "I'm also glad for my decision to not accept an earlier offer by the court for a chance at "rehab" for my "behavior." The mainstream media really should wake up to this issue as it will likely arrive at their doorstep in due time. In fact, there have been some instances that have been met with little attention."