Douglass Dowty, a reporter for Syracuse.com and The Post Standard, was handcuffed Wednesday morning for taking pictures with his cell phone in the hallway of the Onondaga County Courthouse in Syracuse, NY, Syracuse.com reports. Dowty was not charged, and was in court officer custody for about 10 minutes before being released, according to the local site.
It is not illegal for pictures to be taken in the hallways of courthouses, though signs were put up about a year ago in the Onondaga County Courthouse warning the public not to do so, according to Syracuse.com. Court officials said that journalists would still be allowed to take pictures and shoot video, however.
Dowty has been covering courts for Syracuse.com and The Post Standard for about three and a half years, and was doing so when a fight broke out in the hallway outside of a murder trial that has been the source of two fights in as many days, according to Syracuse.com. Three have been charged and two were taken to the hospital in the fight that Dowty was photographing.
As Dowty was taking pictures of the commotion, a court officer ran up to him and asked for his cell phone. Dowty obliged, and was then handcuffed and led to a security counter. Dowty was released not long after.
In May, a journalist was arrested in Charleston, West Virginia for “yelling questions at” Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price about whether domestic violence is a preexisting condition under the Republication replacement for the Affordable Care Act.
The ACLU of West Virginia called on local authorities to immediately drop charges against Dan Heyman, who is a reporter for the Colorado-based Public News Service, calling his arrest “outrageous” and “a blatant attempt to chill an independent, free press.”