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Temple Student Sues After Arrest for Photojournalism

A Temple University student and his girlfriend are suing two Philadelphia police officers over a wrongful arrest in 2012.

Ian Van Kuyk was arrested on charges of obstructing justice, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct after he photographed officers performing a routine traffic stop near his apartment. Van Kuyk was taking photos for a photojournalism assignment. After the student refused to stop taking photos, the officers allegedly pushed Van Kuyk to the ground before handcuffing him. Meghan Feighan, Van Kuyk’s girlfriend, was also charged with obstruction and disorderly conduct after she tried to rescue her boyfriend’s camera.

In November 2012, Van Kuyk and Feighan were found not guilty of the charges. Mickey Osterreicher, general counsel to the National Press Photographers Association, wrote a letter to Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey in which he argues, “There is no excuse for your officers to intentionally disregard a citizen’s right to photograph an event occurring in a public place. Law enforcement agencies are established to uphold and enforce existing laws, not to use them as a pretext to punish someone exercising their free speech right to photograph in public.” 

In September 2011, Ramsey issued a memo stating, “[P]olice personnel shall not interfere with any member of the general public or individuals temporarily detained from photographing, videotaping or audibly recording police personnel while conducting official business or while engaging in an official capacity in any public space.”

Van Kuyk and Feighan have filed a lawsuit against the officers, seeking “compensatory and punitive damages for assault, battery, false arrest and imprisonment and malicious prosecution.”

“The police, we don’t think, should view someone who is photographing or videotaping their activity as an adversary,” says Van Kuyk and Feighan’s attorney, Mark Tanner. “If you’re a public servant and you’re doing your job and doing it well, then video evidence or photographic evidence can only help you.”

Kelsey is a junior at The Ohio State University where she majors in Journalism. She serves as an Editorial Intern and Contributing Writer for Her Campus, and also writes for U lala. Her hobbies include loitering in cafés, watching '80s movies, and obsessing over British boys with perfect hair. After graduation, Kelsey hopes to work for a fashion magazine or lifestyle publication. You can follow Kelsey on Twitter (@kelseypomeroy) and Instagram (@kelseypomeroy).
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