Reporter claims Minn. campus police tried to intimidate him

MINNESOTA —- A University of Minnesota studentjournalist said campus police tried to intimidate him as he intervieweduniversity employees about a clerical workers strike.Koran Addo, areporter for The Minnesota Daily, said that he was asking questions ofemployees at the school’s bursar’s office on Oct. 8 when a campuspolicewoman asked him for identification without explaining why.WhenAddo refused, he said, two other campus police officers surrounded him and askedfor identification and for an explanation of why he was in thebuilding.”I just felt disrespected,” Addo said, ”andlike they were trying to intimidate me.”Addo said that heexplained he was a reporter for the Daily on assignment and gave campuspolice his driver’s license and a Daily businesscard.University of Minnesota police Capt. Steve Johnson said that campuspolice were simply following standard procedure by responding to a phone call.He noted that the whole procedure — including checkingAddo’s driver’s license for outstanding warrants, checking hisstatus on the university Web site and calling the Daily office to confirmthat Addo was a reporter — took 10 minutes.Johnson denied thatpolice tried to intimidate Addo.The police had been called a few minutesearlier when staff in the bursar’s office were suspicious of questionsthat Addo asked.Addo said that some of the employees were in meetings,so he asked about the building’s exits with the implicit understanding that,after the building closed, he would wait outside to interview bursar’soffice workers as they left.In a letter to the Daily, PatriciaRoth, director of cashiering operations in the bursar’s office, explainedthat the employees did not feel comfortable with Addo’squestions.”[Addo] then proceeded to question the teller as to howmany staff there were in the office, whether management staff were present, themethods for entering and exiting the office, and the times when staff typicallyleave the office,” Roth wrote. ”Several Bursar staff finishing theirshifts indicated that they were uncomfortable leaving the office while [Addo]was still observing the office.”Addo said that when policeconfronted him, they initially denied that he was a reporter because he did nothave a press pass.”Student journalists do not necessarily carryaround press passes,” said Shane Hoefer, editor in chief of theDaily. Hoefer said he could not recall an incident in the pastfour years when a reporter was denied access to a campus building for not havinga press pass.Addo said that the press passes had not yet been printedfor the year and that he thought his business card should have been sufficient.Johnson said he had encountered fake business cards and that it wasinsufficient for identification.”Whether he said he was a reporteror a plumber or just there to do a survey, it doesn’t matter,”Johnson said.Daily editors have since met with campus police, andneither Hoefer nor Addo plans to file a complaint.