Milwaukee Veteran Photojournalist Was Obeying Police When Arrested

September 20th, 2011 by Alicia Calzada and tagged , , , , ,

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Police in Milwaukee arrested 68-year-old videographer Clint Fillinger, a former NPPA member,  at a fire scene, even as the photographer was following a police officer’s illegal orders to move back while other members of the public were allowed to stay.

Fox 6, the television station where the journalist works reports that Fillinger “was shooting video behind yellow police tape alongside a small crowd that gathered to watch” when he was approached by the officer and ordered to move back. According to the station, the photographer put his hand up in a defensive manner as the officer was forcing him to move backwards, when he accidentally touched the officer and Fillinger was knocked to the ground, suffering bruises, and arrested. He was cited for resisting and obstructing an officer.

The station’s management has complained to the police department and the NPPA has also sent a formal letter of complaint to the department protesting the arrest. NPPA’s general counsel, Mickey Osterreicher cited the fact that the arrest violated the department’s own policies and added:

While in some situations the press may have no greater rights than those of the general public, they certainly have no less right of access on a public street. Sgt. Thomas Heinz pretextually stated he has moving Mr. Fillinger “for his own safety” yet did not see fit to move any other persons back or to move the previously established police/fire lines….

NPPA stands ready to work with your department to help develop reasonable and workable policies and practices in order to avoid similar situations. If your department’s vision is for “Milwaukee to be a place where all can live safely and without fear, protected by a police department with the highest ethical and professional standards;” we would respectfully request you commence a full and impartial investigation of this incident and bring disciplinary action against these officers if necessary. Additionally we request that all charges against Mr. Fillinger be immediatley dropped.

More details on the arrest can be found at Fox 6’s website:

For the full text of Osterreicher’s letter to the Milwaukee police department, follow this link: Milwaukee Police Letter 09-20-11

********** UPDATE ***************

On September 21, 2011, Milawuakee Police Chied Edward Flynn spoke to the media and among other things blamed the 68 year-old news photographer’s failure to compy with the officer’s request as the cause of the incident. The NPPA responded with a second letter sent today.

********** UPDATE ***************

September 23–

Two additional groups, the Radio Television Digital News Association, and the Wisconsin News Photographers Association have also protested the arrest. Read the letters below.



Posted in Access, broadcasting, Cameras, First Amendment, First Amendment rights, Milwaukee Police, National Press Photographers Association, News Photography, NPPA, photographers, Photographers' Rights, photojournalism, Police, Public Photography, Recording Police, video cameras, violating | 6 Comments »

6 Responses to “Milwaukee Veteran Photojournalist Was Obeying Police When Arrested”

  1.   Toni Says:

    I feel that the officer who arrested Mr. Fillinger should be the one arrested and charged with harassment and prejudiced acts.

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