Journalist Covering Cleveland Protests Arrested After Forgetting Press Pass

Cleveland Officer Michael Brelo in court
WKYC Screenshot
Cleveland Officer Michael Brelo in court
WKYC Screenshot

71 Held in Demonstrations after Cleveland Cop's Acquittal


"Northeast Ohio Media Group staffer Kris Wernowsky was arrested while live streaming downtown Cleveland protesters, according to Cleveland Plain Dealer reporter Rachel Dissell," WKYC-TV in Cleveland reported.

"Dissell said approximately 800 users were watching Wernowsky's Periscope live stream, which continued to broadcast after reports of his arrest.


"A few hours later, she said he was released.

"Northeast Ohio Media Group provides content to The Plain Dealer and, as well as Sun News. . . "


As Adam Ferrise reported for the Northeast Ohio Media Group on Sunday, "Cleveland police arrested 71 people during a day of protests on Saturday following the acquittal of Cleveland police officer Michael Brelo.

"Police Chief Calvin Williams said on Sunday that about 39 are men and at least 16 women were arrested. Juveniles and were also arrested during the protest, Williams said. . . ."


Brelo "stood accused of two charges of voluntary manslaughter in connection with the Nov. 29, 2012 police chase and shooting that killed Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams," as Henry J. Gomez reported Saturday for the Northeast Ohio Media Group.

"After a month-long bench trial and nearly three weeks of deliberations, Cuyahoga Common Pleas Judge John P. O'Donnell found Brelo not guilty on both counts. O'Donnell also determined Brelo was not guilty of the lesser offense of felonious assault, ruling that he was legally justified in his use of deadly force. . . ."


Wernowsky, crime editor for the Northeast Ohio Media Group, sister company of the Plain Dealer, wrote the story of his arrest on Saturday. He reported that he was without his press pass:

"It was shortly after 9:30 p.m. when officers in riot gear corralled us into an alley. With their shields in hand, then chanted 'Move back.'


"I realized we were pinned in, and I didn't have my press pass.

"Dumb move. The dumbest move.

"As I tried to make my way through the line with another group of reporters, I knew then that I was going to jail.


" 'A business card isn't going to cut it,' the officer told me.

"It didn't matter. I didn't have business cards either.

"They put zip ties around my wrists and sat me on a sidewalk in an adjoining alley. On my right was a young black man who went by Moop.


"The officers were polite. We asked what kind of rounds they had.

" 'Bean bags,' the state trooper said.

" 'You ever been shot by one?' I asked.

" 'Yeah.'

" 'Really? Does it hurt?'

" 'Oh, man.'

"Soon I was joined by another group of protesters. A couple of white guys, but mostly young black men whose only crime seemed to be failing to get out of the street when police asked them to move.


"They never told us why we were being detained. At least they didn't tell me.

"Once they had enough to fill the bus, they split us up. The women were placed in a van, and the men were put on the bus.


"I was in the back.

"The guy sitting next to me said he worked at the Social Club and joined the protests on his cigarette break.


" 'Wait, so your boss doesn't know where you're at?'

" 'Yeah, but I think it'll be OK.'

"They filled the bus that started driving toward the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. I knew we were headed to Burke Airport.


"The young man seated in front of me, a man by the name of Tommie Pratt, managed to snake his arms around his front and pull out his cellphone.

" 'Help me send an email to my editor.'

"He did. . . ."

Jeff Darcy, Northeast Ohio Media Group: Brelo case verdicts: Darcy cartoon

Editorial, Plain Dealer, Cleveland: Brelo verdict — the system worked but more needs to be done to fix police-community


Phillip Morris, Plain Dealer, Cleveland: Brelo decision will now test Cleveland's leadership to the maximum

Michael L. Nelson, esq., Call & Post, Cleveland: Will Brelo go to the pen or the pad? (May 13)


News Outlets Want Eric Garner Documents

"You Still Have to Beg for Facts in This Country" Michael Brelo verdict: Get live updates and streaming video (May 23)


"Though it may seem that the #blacklivesmatter marches have thinned to a trickle in recent months, there are still a number of uncertainties — OK, all the uncertainties — about how the investigation into to Eric Garner's 'chokehold' death turned up nothing in the way of punishment for the police who were somehow proven not to have executed him," Billy Manes wrote Wednesday for the Orlando Weekly.

"Yesterday, the association that this paper belongs to, the Association of Alternative Newsmedia, joined in an amicus brief to urge the courts to release the documents that led a grand jury to turn a blind eye. Anything goes on Staten Island, apparently.


"Immediately below is the announcement from AAN's Kevin M. Goldberg, and beneath that you can see the court filing and a list of those behind it. You still have to beg for facts in this country, especially if you are in the media."

In all, about 30 journalism organizations joined the brief. They include the Radio Television Digital News Association, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, the American Society of News Editors, the Center for Investigative Reporting, the National Press Photographers Association and the Society of Professional Journalists.


Also, Advance Publications, Inc.; Bloomberg L.P.; BuzzFeed; Cable News Network, Inc. (CNN); the Center for Investigative Reporting; Courthouse News Service; Daily News, LP; Dow Jones & Company, Inc.; First Amendment Coalition; First Look Media, Inc.

Also, Investigative Reporting Workshop at American University; the McClatchy Co.; MediaNews Group, Inc.; the National Press Club; the New York Times Co.; News 12; Newsday LLC; North Jersey Media Group Inc.; NYP Holdings, Inc.; Online News Association; Reuters America LLC; the Seattle Times Co.; Tully Center for Free Speech; and the Washington Post.


Manes continued, "Among many high profile incidents of police use of force is the death of Eric Garner on Staten Island last summer after he was put in a police chokehold. A grand jury was convened to decide whether to bring the officers involved to trial but the grand jury declined to indict. Several groups petitioned a New York trial court for access to these grand jury materials, including the New York Post, NYCLU [New York Civil Liberties Union], NAACP, the city's public advocate, and the Legal Aid Society.

"As one might expect, the petition was denied. All but the New York Post have now filed an appeal of that decision. Because the Post decided not to join the appeal, there is no media party involved in the case at this point, which led to the decision by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press to draft an amicus brief that was filed on behalf of almost 30 media companies and organizations, including AAN.


"The brief makes three arguments in favor of access. First, disclosure of these materials will serve the public interest. There have been several racially charged incidents in the past year in which unarmed individuals have died at the hands of police officers. The public, while it doesn't need to second guess the ultimate decision, should have the opportunity to understand how the case was presented to the grand jury.

"Disclosure to the public and the press will serve several purposes, including eliminating confusion and misinformation about the underlying events and the grand jury process, scrutinizing the behavior of the prosecutor (who is now a Member of Congress); informing ongoing discussions surrounding police reforms and reassuring the public that the court system is not concealing unpleasant truths under a veil of secrecy at the expense of the public interest.


"The first section of the brief discusses the many cases where press and public access to court proceedings have provided these benefits.

"The second argument is that all of the above is true, to some extent, even where grand juries are involved. The proceedings of grand juries, while generally conducted in secret, are not absolutely secret; in many instances, including Ferguson, MO, prosecutors have chosen to proactively release grand jury information in order to benefit the public.


"The traditional reasons for grand jury secrecy don't apply here. The investigation of this case is over. There has been no indictment and there is no concern that the defendant might flee. Nor is there likely to be harassment or threats of violence against witnesses, as no further grand jury proceedings are to be convened. Finally, the often-cited reason of assuring grand jury witnesses that their testimony will remain secret is a fallacy. There is no guarantee of secrecy, as records can often be released at various times; in fact certain statutes require release of grand jury testimony in certain situations.

"Finally, we argue that access to these records does not have to be 'all or nothing.' The court can review testimony and decide on a witness by witness, or even line by line basis, whether to release testimony while withholding particularly sensitive testimony. By the same vein, certain testimony carries more public interest than others. For instance, while the public has seen two videos involving the fatal chokehold applied to Mr. Garner, two others apparently were shown to the grand jury but never made public. They should be. . . ."


The story included a link to the amicus brief.

Brandon Blackwell, Northeast Ohio Media Group: Tamir Rice rally and counter protest leaders seek peace Saturday at Cleveland's Impett Park


Nick Divito, Courthouse News Service: Eric Garner Grand Jury Access Fight Gets Muscle

Frank Donnelly, Staten Island (N.Y.) Advance: Briefs filed in Eric Garner grand jury appeal; court snubs NAACP (May 5)


Ian Duncan, Baltimore Sun: Subtle differences after indictment in Freddie Gray case could be sign of shift in thinking [access via search engine]

Editorial, Baltimore Sun: Who will stand up to the violence? [access via search engine]


Tamerra Griffin, BuzzFeed: Women Go Topless To Protest Killings Of Unarmed Black Women By Police

Andrew Kirell, Mediaite: Geraldo: Black Lives Only Matter to Civil Rights Leaders When White Cops Do the Killing


Julianne Malveaux, National Newspaper Publishers Association: The Legalized Torture of Prisoners

Christopher Mathias, HuffPost BlackVoices: The Fight To Release The Eric Garner Grand Jury Records Is Still Alive (May 5)


Gene Policinski, First Amendment Center: Re-examining the news — with a free press purpose

Daniel Rivero, Fusion: The Eric Garner evidence still isn’t public. This lawsuit might change that. (May 5)


Barry Saunders, News & Observer, Raleigh, N.C.: Cops doing good things — now that's reality

A.O. Scruggs, Why NPR's Erroneous Report on Cleveland 'Riot' Matters


Jim Shur, Associated Press: Permanent Michael Brown Memorial Planned at Shooting Site

Reader Comments Demonize Black Bikers, Praise Whites

"In his column this week, Charles Blow of The New York Times broke down the difference between 'bikers' and 'thugs' in the wake of the deadly biker gang shootout in Waco, Texas," Gene Demby wrote Friday for NPR's "Code Switch."


" 'The words 'outlaw' and 'biker,' while pejorative to some, still evoke a certain romanticism in the American ethos. They conjure an image of individualism, adventure and virility. There's an endless list of motorcycle gang movies. A search for 'motorcycle romance' on Amazon yields thousands of options. Viagra, the erectile dysfunction drug, even has a motorcycle commercial.

" 'While 'thug life' has also been glamorized in movies, music and books, its scope is limited and racialized. It is applied to — and even adopted by — black men. And the evocation is more "Menace II Society" than "Easy Rider." The pejorative is unambiguous.'


"It turns out that a version of this dynamic plays out every summer in South Carolina's Myrtle Beach area, where two different festivals for motorcycle enthusiasts are held each May — one white, one black.

"The first is the Harley-Davidson Motorcycle Rally, which regularly draws about a half-million people. Its attendees are mostly white. The other is the smaller Memorial Day BikeFest, which is mostly black and informally known as 'Black Bike Week.'


"Jason Eastman, a sociologist at Coastal Carolina University, has studied how residents of the Myrtle Beach area, around 70 percent of whom were white at the time of his research, feel about these two events. In a paper published last month in Contemporary Justice Review, he analyzed 8,600 comments left by readers on online articles in the Myrtle Beach Sun News about the Harley rally and the Black Bike Week held in 2009, and about controversial new rules the city had placed on the events — mandatory helmets, no loud mufflers — that year.

"Eastman found that while the black bikers were painted as 'underclass criminals who attend the rally to steal and murder,' the white bikers were framed as 'exemplars of American Individualism,' whose disregard of the new rules was 'celebrated as defiant acts against authority.' . . ."


Jesse Holland, Associated Press, on Wisconsin Public Radio: Does Race Play A Part In Media's Coverage Of Waco Biker Shootings? (audio)

Mary Mitchell, Chicago Sun-Times: Biker gangs no different from street gangs

Tony Norman, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Thuggery comes in many shades, sizes

Claudia Puig, USA Today Film Critic, Takes Buyout

"Film critic Claudia Puig has left USA Today after a 15-year run," Veronica Villafañe reported Wednesday for her Media Moves site.


"She was one of 55 employees to take a buyout in the latest round of staff cuts at the paper. Her last day was Friday, May 15.

"As she put it in a tweet, she's 'moving on 2 explore other adventures.'

"Claudia says she will continue to 'regularly discuss movies on public radio and video and will continue to watch, think, dream and, most of all, love movies.' . . .”


According to a bio, "Claudia has been a film critic at USA Today since 2001, becoming lead film critic in 2006, and is also a regular contributor for National Public Radio's Film Week. She has discussed movies on NBC, CBS, CNN and on Mitch Albom's syndicated radio show and radio programs in Boston and Washington DC.

"She was named Entertainment Journalist of the Year in 2009 by the Publicists Guild. Claudia began her journalism career at the Los Angeles Times covering city government, crime and courts and was part of the team that won a Pulitzer for its coverage of the L.A. Riots in 1991. In 1993 she began covering the movie business at the LA Times."


Claudia Puig, USA Today: Our movie critic says goodbye (May 13)

Photographer's Passion Makes Every Day Memorial Day

"Over time, so many things lose their meaning," David Gonzalez reported Friday for the "Lens" blog of the New York Times.


"The sting of death, the heartbreak of loss, which loomed so large in the national consciousness after the Civil War, spurred ceremonies that led to Memorial Day. The horrific carnage of World War I — the war to end all wars — led to commemorating military sacrifice from all conflicts. But today, Memorial Day, like other holidays, has been reduced largely to a day for sales, sleeping in or going out.

"That irked Andrew Lichtenstein.

"He had been searching through an old hard drive when he came across images he had made of military funerals, some of which did not make it into 'Never Coming Home,' a book he published on the topic."


Gonzalez also wrote, "Mr. Lichtenstein began wondering what he could do as a photographer once the United States invaded Iraq in 2003. The war itself unsettled him, someone who had photographed the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, on the World Trade Center, watching as people leapt to their deaths. He thought the stories about the rapid, decisive sweep into Iraq rang hollow. . . .

"An item he saw in the paper about the funeral for a soldier from Long Island led him to attend the service, which was short, precise and quite moving. Then and there, he decided this was the story he wanted to tell. From 2003 until 2006, he attended some 60 such funerals around the country, getting information from the Department of Defense website. . . ."


Phillip Morris, Plain Dealer, Cleveland: Memorial Day should also be a call to public service

Eugene Robinson, Washington Post: Why fight for the Iraqis if they are not going to fight for themselves?


Website Picks Its "50 Sexiest in National TV News"

The staff of Mediaite on Thursday chose its "50 sexiest in national TV news."

"While this is certainly a list of physically beautiful people, remember, being sexy isn't only about looks, Mediaite said. "It's also about how they cover the news and in many cases, having something to say and not being afraid to say it."


Journalists and commentators of color on the list include Alex Wagner, Alicia Mendez, Betty Liu, Carl Quintanilla, Don Lemon, Gio Benitez, Harris Faulkner, Jorge Ramos, Jose Diaz-Balart, Marc Lamont Hill, Natalie Morales, Richard Lui, Robin Roberts, Susan Li, Tamron Hall, T.J. Holmes, Van Jones and Zain Asher.

Editorial Page Editor: If This Is Liberal Agenda, So Be It

"I wrote a light blogpost last month about Mayor Dan Clodfelter proclaiming April 30 'Honesty Day' in Charlotte," Taylor Batten, editorial page editor of the Charlotte (N.C.) Observer, wrote for last Sunday's print edition. "Honesty Day, it turned out, is observed on that date nationwide.


"I noted a Wikipedia explanation of what it's all about: 'On this day, anyone participating may ask any question they choose and the opposing person should give a truthful and straightforward answer.'

"I invited readers to say what they would ask, and of whom.

"David Fry of Charlotte was among those who responded.

“ 'To: observer editors

“ 'Question? Why do you support such a liberal agenda?

“ 'Remember you’re supposed to answer honestly.' ”

"Well, rules are rules, so I suppose you deserve an honest answer for Honesty Day. Here goes:

"We believe that everyone is created equal.

"We believe that children should not bear responsibility for the sins of their parents.


"We believe that prevention is a heck of a lot cheaper than a cure.

"We believe people should not be treated as lesser citizens, with fewer rights, because of whom they love.


"We believe a thriving city, state and nation rests to a great degree in the quality of its public schools, and that every child deserves a dedicated, dynamic teacher, regardless of what ZIP code that child lives in.

"We believe discrimination is wrong in every instance.

"We believe in consistency, so if you are going to drug-test recipients of public assistance, drug-test them all, including the corporate chieftains who are the biggest beneficiaries.


"We believe that police officers should act professionally, under incredibly difficult circumstances, regardless of a suspect's race. . . ."

Among the additional beliefs: "We believe there are peace-loving Muslims" and "We do not believe President Obama was born in Kenya."


Asian Americans Urged to Reject "Model Minority" Hype

Writing Friday for CNN, Jeff Yang, author and columnist for the Wall Street Journal Online, challenged Jerry Hough, the Duke University professor who expressed his disappointment with African Americans and praised Asian Americans as examples of the right kind of people of color.


"There are so many ways that this kind of praise is actually damnation," Yang wrote.

"For a start, it suggests that assimilation and cultural erasure are the only means to succeed in America. It dismisses those who don't succeed in the precise ways that white America defines as success as failures, and blames them for their inadequacy and laziness. And it sets America's striving masses against one another — dividing communities that should by all rights be finding common cause and fighting shared ills.


"The net effect is that in times of unrest, anger is redirected away from an unjust establishment and toward closer and more immediate targets for rage.

"We who grew up experiencing the same kind of language from our parents should be wary of it when we encounter it as adults. The sad thing, though, is that many Asian-Americans — too many — not only accept these false terms as factual, they actually embrace the hype. It's a core rationale fueling the drive by some Asian-Americans to strike down race-based affirmative action, for example. . . ."


Angola Drops Defamation Charges Against Muckraker

"In a surprise development, the defamation charges against journalist Rafael Marques de Morais were dropped Thursday by the Angolan military generals who had brought them," Kerry A. Dolan wrote Thursday for Forbes.


"Marques had been charged with criminal defamation for writing about human rights abuses in Angola's diamond mining region. He alleged that the murders and torture there had been orchestrated by private security and mining companies owned by Angolan generals. Marques could possibly have faced up to nine years in jail if he had been found guilty. . . ."

Dolan also wrote, "Marques cautioned that the trial proceedings are not officially over. The trial will continue with oral submissions on Monday May 25 and the judge will read the sentence on Thursday May 28.


"Marques, a longtime investigative journalist who has highlighted abuses in his country, had widespread and ongoing support from a broad range of human rights and free speech groups, some of which had expected the court to wrongly convict Marques. So the news came as a positive surprise. . . ."

Short Takes

Three weeks ago, Michelle Faul, a veteran foreign correspondent who heads the Associated Press bureau in Lagos, Nigeria, interviewed liberated prisoners of the terrorist group Boko Haram. Now they appear to be prisoners again — of the military. NPR's Renee Montagne interviewed Faul on Thursday in Lagos.


"Telemundo stations in Los Angeles, Miami, Phoenix, Chicago, Philadelphia, Houston and Dallas scored big in the May 2015 sweeps among key demographic groups," Veronica Villafañe reported Thursday for her Media Moves site. "In late night newscasts, WSCV 51 Miami remains #1 at 11 pm among Adults 18 to 49 and Adults 25 to 54 for 26 consecutive months. KTAZ Telemundo Phoenix also leads at 10 pm regardless of language among Adults 18 to 34 and Adults 18 to 49 for the second consecutive month. . . ."

Lewis W. Diuguid of the Kansas City Star has won the National Association of Black Journalists' 2015 Angelo B. Henderson Community Service Award, NABJ announced on Friday. Diuguid has "been very involved in supporting and advocating for the homeless and underserved population of Kansas City. He has dressed as a homeless person and joined the homeless black community to bring awareness to others as to how the community is viewed and treated. He does many other things to support this often invisible part of the black community . . .," the announcement said.


"Snapchat is hiring journalists to cover the 2016 US presidential race and turn submissions from the 100 million users of the photo-sharing app into event-focused stories," Jasper Jackson reported Friday for Britain's Guardian. "An ad for content analysts politics & news on the Greenhouse recruitment site asks for 'political junkies and news aficionados' with 'experience in journalism and storytelling of all forms' to join a 'new content team'. . . ."

"As first hinted in trade mags and reported here in late March, Sharon Reed, a main anchor at KMOV (Channel 4), has taken a job with a sister station in Atlanta," Joe Holleman reported Tuesday for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "In a statement on KMOV's website Monday, Reed confirmed that she would be joining WGCL (Channel 46). . . ."


In Cleveland, "Angelica Campos is leaving WJW Channel 8 to become the chief meteorologist at KGTV Channel 10, the ABC affiliate station in San Diego. Sunday morning will be her last newscast for Channel 8," Mark Dawidziak reported Friday for the Plain Dealer. "Campos has been a meteorologist at Channel 8, the Cleveland Fox affiliate owned by Tribune Media Group, since June 2010. Her departure was announced on Friday's 'Fox 8 News in the Morning.' . . ."

In Richmond, Va., "Longtime WTVR CBS 6 anchor Stephanie Rochon is gravely ill from her battle with cancer," the station reported Wednesday on its website. "Over the past nine months, many of you have called, emailed and contacted us through social media to ask what has happened to Stephanie. She greatly appreciated your well wishes and inquiries as she bravely faced this intense challenge. . . . Members of the WTVR CBS 6 News team are wearing lavender cancer awareness ribbons in Stephanie’s honor. . . ."


"Over the last couple of weeks, Danny Glover has been on a mission to draw attention to U.S. postal workers across the country and to raise awareness for the American Postal Workers Union," Yesha Callahan reported Friday for The Root. "The cause is dear to Glover because both his parents were postal workers. But during a recent interview, Glover felt disrespected because he was not given enough time to discuss the rising issues that postal workers face. During a TV interview with San Francisco affiliate KTVU, reporter Terri Campbell didn't give Glover enough time, and clearly he was pissed. What started out as a friendly interaction quickly went all the way left. . . ."

New Orleans photographers Eric Waters, 67, and Syndey Byrd, 69, "are currently displaced from the world they document," Katy Reckdahl wrote May 4 for the Advocate in Baton Rouge, La. "After a fraudulent contractor took his money and left his flooded house on North Rocheblave Street unrepaired, Waters commutes to photography gigs in New Orleans from post-Katrina exile in Atlanta. He hopes to return, eventually. Byrd's chances of returning are unclear. The New Orleans Musicians' Clinic, which is helping to care for her, notes officially that, 'after several years battling the cruelty of dementia, Syndey now resides 15 minutes away from her studio in a skilled nursing facility, unable to recall her stunning legacy.' . . ."


A story by Chase Cook about Rick Hutzell, named editor of Capital Gazette Communications in Annapolis, Md., ended with, "Hutzell's promotion doesn't come with any immediate plans to change staff. He did say newsroom leadership could use more diversity and was 'certainly a concern.' 'Diversity in newsroom leadership is an important goal for this paper,' he said." Hutzell succeeds Steve Gunn, who is becoming editor of the Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, Va.

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