(TFC) – Multiple reports were sent in to our platform yesterday along with several journalist who also took to Twitter to report that Capitol police, and other authorities were demanding that they delete any pictures and footage that they captured as demonstrators were removed from the Senate Chamber on Capitol Hill on Tuesday afternoon protesters shouted “Kill the bill don’t kill us” and “Shame” from the Senate gallery, as Republican Senators attempted to push through a motion that would enable them to quickly proceed on to a debate over health care, essentially speeding up the process of the Republicans promise to repeal and replace America’s health care system, coequally known as Obamacare. Realistically they could keep the bill relatively unchanged except for replacing Obama with Trump in the name and the majority of Trump’s base would be satisfied with the replacement. But that is an entirely different story.
This article will will be focused on the multiple accounts of accredited journalist being told they needed to delete any footage or pictures of the protest demonstrations inside the Senate building. At about 2:30 eastern time Twitter lit up with a small protest of its own. Huffington Post’s Jennifer Bendery Tweeted that “Reporters blocked from Senate halls where protesters being arrested, shouting, ‘Kill the bill!’ Being told, ‘no photos. Delete your photos”
Reporters blocked from Senate halls where protesters being arrested, shouting, "Kill the bill!" Being told, "no photos. Delete your photos."
— Jennifer Bendery (@jbendery) July 25, 2017
Photo journalist Alejandro Alvarez Tweeted out that he “couldn’t believe how many reports he was seeing of Capitol Hill reporters being forced to delete video/photos of protests. In a facebook conversation Alvarez said “a number of reporters were told to delete content by Capitol Police & staffers. At least one actually did.” saying that “There’s a number of weird rules about video/photo in the senate gallery”. Searching I found that a journalist named Andrew Desiderio Tweeted that capitol police forced him to delete the video he recorded.
Capitol Police made me delete the video I recorded. https://t.co/NQH2fLFYiO
— Andrew Desiderio (@desiderioDC) July 25, 2017
I have seen some people say that the Senate and House have the right to prohibit still photography and videography in and around the chambers “for security reasons”. I am not sure if these people truly understand the definition of the word public, as in these people are public officials.
According to Alejandro on Facebook reporters were told it was a “crime scene” and that’s why photos/videos weren’t allowed – not because of a zone restriction. This was later validated as Capitol Police said they arrested nearly 100 people during protests. Police spokeswoman Eva Malecki said in a statement that officers responded twice to Senate visitor galleries and once to the atrium of the Hart Senate Office Building. She says 31 demonstrators in the visitor galleries were arrested charged with disrupting Congress after they refused to stop their “unlawful demonstration activities.” In the office building, 64 people were arrested and charged with crowding, obstructing or incommoding under District of Columbia code.
Eventually, Senators voted 57-43 to reject the plan in the first vote on an amendment to the bill, blocking a wide-ranging proposal by Republicans to repeal much of former president’s health care law and replace it with a more restrictive plan.
While its upsetting and worth reporting that Capitol Police and Senate staffers asking people to delete their cellphone recordings, this author does not believe these commands are valid even if codified, nor do I believe that the CP or elected officials have the resources or means to police it. I encourage every journalist worth their weight in mega pixels to always disobey authorities when they try to “interfere with our official business”, in quotations because that is what they often say to us. I think it’s important for us to be persistent and to support each other to ensure no matter what side of the isle you’re on the truth will still get out. We are the occupation most tasked with keeping politicians and public officials accountable. The fact that footage and photos are available online of the protests and arrests in the with in Senate building are a testament of little their rules and demands do at the stopping the spread of information today.
Senate gallery staffer tells reporters to "back up" away from protesters who are being arrested. "This is a crime scene"
— Gabby Morrongiello (@gabriellahope_) July 25, 2017