WASHINGTON, D.C. — A United Press International intern, who was caught up in the mass arrests of International Monetary Fund protesters last weekend, has refuted police claims that detained professional media members were not given preferential treatment to avoid charges filed against their collegiate press counterparts.
UPI’s Stefany Moore, a Boston University senior, said she and two washingtonpost.com reporters were allowed off a bus where police were holding arrested protesters after their respective editors called into Metropolitan Police Department headquarters.
The officers on the bus were ordered by their superiors to let us go because they said, “we weren’t suppose to be there,” Moore said.
Moore and the Post reporters were detained on the bus for a few hours before their release and were not charged. At least six student journalists were arrested while covering the protests and subjected to up to 20 hours of incarceration on buses and at the Metropolitan Police Academy and a charge of failure to obey an officer, the same charge made against protesters. After that they were given the option of pleading no contest and paying $50 to expedite their release.
When initially questioned yesterday, Metropolitan Police Department Public Information Officer Joe Gentile said to his knowledge all professional and student journalists who were detained and put on buses had to go through the entire booking process.
He said any journalist with legitimate press credentials only was allowed out of the crowd before a warning to disperse was given and arrests were made.
When asked to comment today on the incident involving Moore and the Post reporters, he said several journalists were allowed off the buses by order of Metropolitan Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey.
Editors at The Diamondback at the University of Maryland contacted police several times to request their two arrested journalists freed from detainment on the bus. All the officers they spoke to at the department said the reporters would have to be booked before they could be released.
Along with the Diamondback reporters and student journalists at George Washington also provided press credentials in attempting to leave Pershing Park with other professional journalists immediately before arrests began and during their detainment on buses and at the holding facility. Their pleas failed as well.
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