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.
Police grabbing media. I was grabbed by my bandana from behind and pulled into a group of officers as they approached me. An enquirer reporter just hauled off. pic.twitter.com/cNreMVFgyH— Nick Swartsell (@nswartsell) June 2, 2020
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.
I called the city manager seconds after watching a reporter being arrested. He assured me that the chief was on his way. Isaac showed up seconds later, and the reporter has been released.— Councilman Greg Landsman (@GregLandsman) June 2, 2020
This was not okay. https://t.co/UAD6Mzc9Nv
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.
Several arrests in the area earlier at McMicken & Stonewall. An @Enquirer reporter was temporarily detained & @WCPO reporter moved from the immediate area as officers were attempting to clear the street while having rocks thrown at them. We apologize for any inconvenience.— Cincinnati Police Department (@CincyPD) June 2, 2020
For his part, Brennan says he was released after 30 minutes and had a "thorough, respectful" conversation with Chief Isaac.
Hey everyone. So, I guess you heard. I wanted to let everyone know that I’m fine. I was released approx. 30 mins after my arrest. I had a thorough, respectful conversation w/ @ChiefEIsaac and others afterward. I think the conversation will continue and that’s important... (con’t)— Pat Brennan (@PBrennanENQ) June 2, 2020
What happened tonight can be part of my job, I’m fine and we go again tomorrow (back to #FCCincy matters, though — for now). Thanks to all that called/texted/messaged. I’m working to respond to everyone.— Pat Brennan (@PBrennanENQ) June 2, 2020