Cincinnati Police Arrest, Then Release Enquirer Reporter Covering Monday Night Protests

Reporter Nick Swartsell caught Patrick Brennan's arrest on video

Jun 2, 2020 at 9:36 am

click to enlarge Enquirer Reporter Pat Brennan and CPD - Photo: Nick Swartsell Twitter video still
Photo: Nick Swartsell Twitter video still
Enquirer Reporter Pat Brennan and CPD

Patrick Brennan, a Cincinnati Enquirer who typically covers FC Cincinnati, was out Monday night covering the protests after the city's 8 p.m. curfew until he was arrested by Cincinnati Police on McMicken Avenue between Over-the-Rhine and the West End. He was released about 30 minutes later.

CityBeat's currently furloughed (but still actively reporting, and contributing pro-bono) reporter Nick Swartsell caught Brennan's — not sure what exactly to call this other than a take-down — by multiple Cincinnati Police officers. 

In the video you can see Brennan approach CPD officers with a visible press badge. He is then told to get on the ground, put his hands behind his back and six officers surround and cover him as he is put in to flex cuffs.

Regardless of arguments about a free press and how arresting members of the media who are reporting on demonstrations — or anything — is a violation of the First Amendment, reporters and media are also considered essential workers, who are technically exempt from the city's curfew. So there are no grounds for arresting Brennan for being out on the streets after 8 p.m. 

Cincinnati City Council members (and a ton of other humans agreed) taking to social media to call for Brennan's release. 

Swartsell reported in a Tweet that Police Chief Eliot Isaac said, "Brennan was arrested because he was wearing a mask and goggles and his ID was not evident. 'He got mixed up in a crowd,' Isaac said."

If you watch Swartsell's video, you can clearly see Brennan's ID in a lanyard around his neck and his goggles on his forehead. He also is not in a crowd as he approaches CPD; he is alone.

Mayor John Cranley issued a response on Twitter and cc-ed the media. He said the arrest of Brennan was a "big mistake."

"The right to a free press and to protest are inextricably intertwined. Reporters are crucial to our democracy," he said. 

CPD issued their own response on Twitter, which included a reaction to them shoving a WCPO reporter toward the back during some kind of event with protesters and the police on Mohawk Street. 

For his part, Brennan says he was released after 30 minutes and had a "thorough, respectful" conversation with Chief Isaac.