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Handcuffs Slapped on Journalist Covering Joe Miller Event

A reporter and progressive blogger attempting to cover a campaign rally for Senatorial candidate and Tea Party annointee Joe Miller in Alaska was promptly handcuffed and "detained" by Miller's private security force, numerous media outlets are reporting. Alaska Dispatch founder and editor Tony Hopfinger's alleged crime? "Trespassing"--at a public event at a public school. According to Alaska Dispatch, Hopfinger was carrying a video camera and attempting at the time of his non-arrest to ask Miller questions about a current hot-button issue from his previous career: "whether the candidate had ever been reprimanded for politicking while working at the Fairbanks North Star Borough in 2008." Several Alaska media outlets are currently suing for the release of records pertaining to this issue of Miller's past conduct. Alaska Dispatch reports the following sequence of events based on various firsthand accounts:
  • Two or three bodyguards told Hopfinger to stop asking questions and to leave the building.
  • Hopfinger continued to ask questions while apparently videotaping the candidate.
  • Bodyguards told him that if he persisted they would arrest him for trespassing, but refused to identify themselves to Hopfinger.
  • Hopfinger asked why he was trespassing, as the event was at a public school. Seconds later, he was then put in arm-bar and later handcuffed and sequestered at one end of a hallway for at least 30 minutes. He was told, "You're under arrest."
  • Anchorage Police arrived on the scene shortly after.
As other bloggers as well as Miller's opponent Senator Lisa Murkowski have noted, the irony here is that Miller claims to be a valiant defender of constitutional liberties. That only extends so far, it seems, as the priorities of his campaign. Read more at Alaska Dispatch and Think Progress and watch video at TPM. Update: Hopfinger spoke to the Huffington Postabout the incident.
"Getting handcuffed by somebody you don't know at a public school, no one had said it was a private event or cast it that way, I mean intimidated, yeah [I was]. But I guess I was more pissed off. Miller, I felt, was going to answer my question on the reprimand part," said Hopfinger. "I think, just like in other parts of the country, the media is finding itself having a hard time doing its job in this political cycle because, whenever we ask questions, there are certain candidates out there who decry 'lamestream media' or whatever. Mr. Miller has had plenty of time to answer questions. He has been given plenty of opportunities. He somehow believes he shouldn't be questioned about his background and yet he wants a job in six years, to a post where there are only 100 in the entire country, and we are not supposed to ask questions about anything of his past. There is a little bit of shoot the messenger. It is happening up here, and other parts of the country. There are certain candidates who just want to turn this around and act like it's the media causing the problem. That has always been there, that element. It is just more ramped up this political cycle."
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