“When it’s uncomfortable, when it’s unpopular, even when it’s dangerous to speak the truth, is the precise time the truth should be spoken.”
Portland, OR (9-20-14) — Portland’s University of Oregon Turnbull Center campus permitted @narchists attending the Cascade Media Convergence to H@rass a photojournalist attending to cover the event. The UoO has a journalism department as well as a school of law. The narrative reporting on the dereliction of duty and incompetence at the University along with pictures of some of the miscre@nts follows.
It all began with a Facebook invitation to Portland’s Cascade Media Convergence event from what turned out to be Olympia’s Works In Progress’ (WIP) Sylvia Smith–a woman who had edited the community based alternative newspaper for the past 24 years. It had steadily devolved from its inception during the heady days of Jesse Jackson’s Presidential bid through his ‘Rainbow Coalition’ to a screed for many malcontents and those sympathetic with violently r@dical elements in the State’s capitol city. Sylvia had asked Rick Fellows, the director of Oly’s Media Island (a 501(c)3 non-profit located across the street from the public library) if he would provide transportation on a bus HE owned to those interested in attending. The bus was not rented or leased by anyone, including Sylvia or WIP. It was to be done on a cost share basis among those riding on it interested in attending the event. Figures vacillated between $10 and $25 with at least 10 on board to be viable. The exact time of departure was going to be announced, but it was said it would be leaving from the Media Island location. Some registered as interested online including yours truly.
Consternation must have reached apocalyptic proportions as Sylvia belatedly notified the reporter he was talented, well written, but persona non grata and too ‘black’ to even ride the bus let alone in the rear of it. A self appointed spokesperson for a community based alternative newspaper was telling an independent photojournalist he would not be permitted to ride in the company of fellow independent journalists on a privately owned bus that had not been rented/leased belonging to a friend (Rick) who has benefited from the generosity of the reporter in the past. Rick, incidentally, when asked, confided if the reporter paid his share of the fuel expenses for the trip, Rick wasn’t about to kick him off the bus, but expressed discomfort with the awkward position Sylvia has created for him. Sylvia also roundly discouraged this reporter from even attending the event itself–an event neither she nor WIP were sponsoring or even attended (no, not one) in the end. Rick was last seen repairing his car and is not thought to have attended either. There were not enough people from Olympia interested in going to make taking the bus practical. Yet Sylvia had argued others who were going to be in attendance had taken exception to a photojournalist coming said to have a reputation of taking photos of his subjects at public events with/without their permission. Moreover, Sylvia asserted the reporter had a “gnarly reputation” at relating to others at such events ‘inappropriately’ and disrupting them. (Without fear nor favor?) There was NO substantiation of the same or any disruptions except at the hands of the miscre@nts because there was no truth to the assertion. Clearly, WIP had been hi-jacked by Sylvia’s chosen outl@ws and the paper had become a cheerleader rather than an editorial asset to the community.
Friday’s opening blast at the event was a social and dance held at Portland’s Musicians’ Union Hall–a party that could be skipped without missing what was anticipated as the centerpiece to the intrigue: The sheltering of @narchists conspiring against the state using its facilities and tax supported institutions to work out the details of their strategies to sow revolution and v@ndalism, pontificating about their ‘rights’ while relishing denying the rights of others. It would all have to wait until Saturday’s first workshop scheduled for 10:00 am.
Considerably late for the 1st after checking into a local hostel, the 2nd workshop was presented by a journalism faculty member at the University without a hitch. Lunch was to be a 45 minute pause. Portland’s Saturday Marketplace was only a block away under the Burnside Bridge. The Graffiti Workshop was scheduled in room 302. This was the one said to be attended by those who wanted nothing documented or pictures taken.
The organizers had demanded registration from the reporter upon his arrival and $ for the 2 days of workshops. Both were given. While getting oriented, he noticed many other photographers present taking pictures or filming in the various rooms where workshops were being held. Knowing photography is not a crime and the scope of 1st Amendment guarantees, the reporter was confident of the legal boundaries, but not his safety. He’d been set upon/mobbed & robbed by @narchists before such as at TESC’s Anarchist Convergence in Olympia, 2013. He’d brought witnesses for this occasion and the resolve to defend himself. One open carry advocate had offered to come. A surge of support had been voiced by civil rights advocates and those fond of a free press. One woman with a 7-year old daughter had offered to accompany him on the trip, but had been discouraged due to the fact that if a venue isn’t safe for a journalist, it isn’t safe for a 7-year old child.
Upon leaving the elevator, the photographer was challenged by the young man with the big hands seen below. “Are you going to take pictures?” he was asked. “I’m not required to respond to you and don’t want to talk to you,” he replied, “You’re blocking my path.” He was in the public hallway leading to room 302 where the great graffiti grope was to be held. The br@t crowded him and repeated his question with the same rebuff as the photographer stepped back and the miscre@nt advanced with each step, with each warning to step away from him–to leave him alone or he would defend himself from the @ssault. The young man ignored the warnings while asking what the reporter was doing as he dialed the University for assistance. “None of your business,” he was told.
Eventually, virtually all of those there/arriving opted to mob the photographer while certain unannounced witnesses looked on and the confrontation was recorded until the totally incompetent inadequately trained security guard for the building arrived. Being about the same age as the other callow miscre@nts, possibly a student as well, the guard joined in the very same antics, trying to block/intimidate the photographer while the organizers offered the reporter’s registration fee back. It was declined. The University administrator (Mike) had, by that time, arrived and witnessed a tense physical standoff on the verge of escalating to a self-defense action where the @ggressors had been repeatedly warned to stop yet continued to advance on the retreating reporter. In the interest of safety and perceiving more responsiveness from the older man, Mike asked the reporter to leave the scene but accompany him to discuss it. The journalist acceded to the request but continued to be h@rried by the incredibly incompetent ill-trained security guard until the reporter warned him NOT to touch him. Seeing this excess, the administrator chimed in and ordered the guard to back off. Reaching the ground floor, witness in tow, a discussion ensued.
“You blew it,” opined the photographer, “My rights as a photojournalist in a public venue at a public event were clearly being violated and you sided with the miscre@nts!” “I’m not certain what the laws are regarding this situation,” plead Mike. Mike was the responsible University administrator for the facility that Saturday. “I don’t think it’s ‘public’, but I just don’t know,” he continued. “Well, it is,” pressed the reporter, “Why don’t you call some of the University lawyers or law instructors and find out?” “That’s not so easy on a weekend,” said Mike. “Geeze, you’re a public university, you have a law school and a department of journalism here,” scoffed the reporter. He began to go into a litany of legal precedents and examples to make his case. “I used to work for the Seattle Times,” announced Mike. “Good,” came the reply, “Then we won’t have to reiterate basics to journalism we both already know–stuff like reporting without fear nor favor or having to seek permission from the very subjects on whom you’re reporting. You are a government institution/facility and if I had to ask its permission to do what I do, a free press wouldn’t mean very much, now would it?” “I just don’t know for sure,” pleaded Mike, “Give me some time to consult to find the answers.” “I’m sure you’ll come up with the right ones after you do your homework,” the photojournalist reckoned, “I’m an expert in this area. How much time do you need?” The reporter was wearing his 6″ PRESS button and cynically anticipated Mike telling him it might be a few days. “Can you give me about 25 minutes,” came the reply. “Sure,” the man with the camera nodded, “We’re near the Saturday Market and riverfront park. I’m certain we can find something to do for that amount of time.”
It was still early afternoon. As they proceeded to leave the building, the reporter stopped by the desk where his security guard antagonist had positioned himself near the entrance. “Do you have a phone book?” he asked, “I’d like the phone number of The Oregonian.” The guard looked through it and gave him the correct phone number. “So, tell me,” he continued, “Why are you so ‘shy’ about having your picture taken?” “Why are you so insistent on taking them or adverse to being blocked?” sneered the guard. “Look! Let me fill you in on some stuff in which you should be professionally interested,” glared the reporter, “First, you are NOT a law enforcement officer. You have no arrest powers and unlike a sworn peace officer, neither I NOR YOU may ‘advance’ on a person. Only a police/law officer may do that in law. Nor may you touch me.” “I didn’t touch you,” he objected. “Yes, you did! Unlike a sworn peace officer, you do NOT have qualified immunity from a lawsuit holding you liable for your actions, even if they were in good faith,” he continued. The guard nodded in agreement.
The Oregonian was sympathetic, called the situation tragic, but as a mainstream outlet, didn’t appear inclined to follow up on the story. They may have placed a phone call to the university, who knows?
The weather was quite warm/sunny that afternoon, muggy even except for the welcome breeze that floated down the river valley near its waters. The streets and park were crowded. The huge expanse of grass was cluttered with the homeless and all their worldly possessions, even teacup poodles thrown together among shopping carts and whatever could hold them. Daytime was siesta time for them. Public bathrooms were scarce, but unlike Olympia, there were some including a hybrid that exposed the head and lower legs of the occupants to public view while shielding their torso and pelvis as they sat on the toilet set into the public sidewalk. Somewhat further away beyond the bevy of food carts was an army of fiberglass outhouses in formation beneath the Burnside Bridge. Its ranks were arranged so as to discourage any who might want to squeeze through to open one of the doors. Its flank was cordoned/fenced off, but careful reconnoitering allowed a maneuver that granted relief. Portland was a city with accommodations for the savvy and/or determined only. Still, they existed–in stark contrast to Seattle and Olympia. Portland is also a city wildly enthusiastic about bicycles. They’re everywhere in a bewildering array of configurations and styles. Portland is a city intensely 3-dimensional. It is dense, tall, highly engineered, and equally deep hidden below grade. It’s public transportation system with Max, buses, trolleys and tram is rivaled by none–dirt cheap to ride. In fact, the drivers downtown weren’t seen to be asking anyone for proof of their fare. Hostels run about $35/night in the Pearl/Nob Hill District. Quality eateries abound w/reasonably priced menus. Volunteers wandered the core area handing out free sandwiches to those who appeared needy. For civil engineers and students of architecture, it is an impressive work of art–full and robust with a glut of humanity among the shards of high rises, plethora of bridges, and riverfront hideaways.
Perhaps an hour had passed. A call to Mike yielded a request for about 15 minutes more. “It’ll take us about that long to walk there,” he was reassured, “That’ll be fine.” He was still talking upon our arrival, not in an office, but seated in an alcove of the lobby in the leased historic building. “I’m sorry. It took somewhat longer than I anticipated,” he apologized upon approaching us perhaps just within earshot of the security guard near the entryway. He paused, caught his breath, and candidly announced, “We agree with you!” Before a response could be had, he excused himself for a few moments more to complete some pressing business before returning. “It is true that this space is public and so is the event,” he declared, “It’s also true the university administers the space.” “You know, this isn’t exactly my first rodeo,” leveled the reporter, “I’ve become an expert in this area of law and am exquisitely familiar with the nuances, boundaries, and precedents. I was confident your conclusions would make more sense once you’d done your homework.” “Well,” Mike continued, “I spoke with some of the organizers as well as the security guard. They admitted other photographers were present. We clarified to them they were not permitted to discriminate against you, et ux, while allowing others taking photos/video.” That was precisely what had gone on, in fact, as many tripods and cameras were seen earlier at the event. “So, what do you want to do,” queried Mike. “Actually, I’d like to continue to cover all of the event, including tomorrow,” the reporter suggested. “OK,” Mike responded, “but there are some conditions.” “Such as?” asked the photographer. “I won’t be able to be here tomorrow, so if any dispute arises, the security guard will have to sort it out,” Mike clarified. “No!” the reporter balked, “He’s incompetent.” Mike remained silent in apparent agreement. The guard had been monumentally incompetent and vacuous, the epitome of a clueless apparatchik, as willfully ignorant as the miscre@nts he’d sided with. “I’ll tell you what,” winked the journalist, “I’ll make you a counter-offer…an accord and satisfaction in legal parlance. It’s obvious that there will be no love lost between myself and the @narchists in any event. Here’s the deal I’ll accept….”
Unfortunately the story will have to be truncated here as the deal included a non-disclosure clause. But, if there’s feathers on the face of this reporter who looks like the cat that ate the canary, it’s because it was delicious. It’s an agreement that likely wouldn’t have been reached but for the suspicion Mike genuinely liked the reporter and his journalistic ethics/dedication to 1st Amendment principles, his love of this country and the precepts upon which it was founded, the inalienable rights of all the people, his courage in pursuing reporting without fear nor favor–in short, a truly independent journalist. The public is entitled to no less, the Constitution singles out only one profession by name for protection–the press! The University of Oregon stands 4-square for that proposition without fear nor favor.
CLICK BELOW for Audio of Registration & Payment for Cascade Media Convergence at Portland’s University of Oregon Turnbull Center facility:
CLICK BELOW for Audio of @ssault and the University of Oregon’s dereliction of duty by failing to protect and defend the photojournalist’s civil rights as well as the public’s: