Berkeley police chief sends sergeant to reporter's home to request story changes

Discussion in 'Up to the Minute' started by Reader, Mar 10, 2012.

  1. Reader

    Reader New Member

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    Minutes after reading a late-night news story online about him that he perceived to be inaccurate, Berkeley Police Chief Michael Meehan ordered a sergeant to a reporter's home insisting on changes, a move First Amendment experts said reeked of intimidation and attempted censorship.

    Meehans's actions were "despicable, totally despicable," said Jim Ewert, general counsel of the California Newspaper Publisher's Association. "It's the most intimidating type of (censorship) possible because the person trying to exercise it carries a gun."

    "Ordering a police officer to a journalist's home in the middle of the night to demand changes to a story is an attempt at 'censorship by intimidation,' Scheer said. "It definitely crossed the line. It's a violation of the First Amendment, let's be perfectly clear." It "goes to such an extreme it's hard to imagine."

    Ewert said the chief should have just called the newspaper the next day or written a letter to the editor.

    Even after Oakley made initial changes to the story Meehan early Friday continued to phone and email Oakley asking for additional changes. Oakley declined, saying he stood by his story.

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  3. mysteriew

    mysteriew A diamond in process

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    There are three professions you try never to anger. A cop, your waitress/waiter and a journalist. I guess he just found out about the journalist.
  4. Dr.Fessel

    Dr.Fessel New Member

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    Oakley had covered a raucous community meeting Thursday night in which Meehan attempted to explain to about 150 residents his department's failure to provide information to the public in the days after

    the Feb. 18 Berkeley hills beating death of Peter Cukor, 67. A man has been charged with murder for the killing.

    Residents were angry that police did not immediately respond to a first call for help from Cukor made to a nonemergency line during an Occupy movement protest. Officers were directed to respond only to 911 emergencies.


    This is what the people should have been mad about. A man got beat to death and the police were slow to go to his aide but then.......

    Meehan apologized Friday.

    "I would say it was an overzealous attempt to make sure that accurate information is put out," Meehan said. "I could have done better." Meehan said he didn't think Oakley would be upset or intimidated because the police sergeant, Mary Kusmiss, regularly deals with the media.

    "I did not mean to upset (Oakley) or his family last night; it was late, (I was) tired, too. I don't dispute that it could be perceived badly," he said.

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