Two high school student reporters in Denver got a close-up look at the strong arm of the law in late November when a police officer confiscated and exposed the film they were using to take photographs in the school parking lot.
The reporters, Dustin Jacobs and Nick Gaylord, who work for the South High School student newspaper, The Gargoyle, started snapping pictures at the scene of a police investigation into an earlier fight at the school. A police report said that members of a gang drew a gun on several students and beat another so badly he was spitting up blood.
“We were just going for a picture with a bunch of cops in it for our paper,” said Gaylord.
After the two started snapping pictures, police asked for the film. When they refused, the students say the police officer took the camera and started using up the film by taking pictures. The officer then offered to develop the photos. When Jacobs and Gaylord declined, the officer took the film out of the camera and exposed it.
South High Principal Shawn Batterberry, who has had previous censorship battles with the student newspaper, has publicly supported the officer’s action.
“(The students) just started taking pictures without knowing what was going on,” Batterberry said. ” That was pretty poor judgment on their part.”
The students have contacted the ACLU and have received widespread support from the community and the local news media, but have not yet decided what, if anything, they plan to do. They have asked, at the very least, for a public apology from the police.
“We’re not ruling anything out yet. There was a violation, and we’re not ok with it,” Jacobs told the Denver Post.