Notes From The Margin

July 31, 2007

Joe’s River Tragedy – Nation Files A Complaint With Police

In the wake of the Joes River Tragedy there was a somewhat disturbing article in the press today

Photographer’s pictures deleted

A NATION PHOTOGRAPHER covering Sunday’s accident that claimed six lives at Joe’s River, St Joseph, has complained that police yanked his camera from his neck and deleted his pictures.

Rawle Culbard said he had shot photographs of bodies from an area which was not cordoned off. He added that between the time he arrived on the scene at about 12:50 p.m. and the time he left at about 3 p.m., he did not cross any “caution lines”.

However, a senior officer called him and told him he could not take pictures of the scene.

“I told him I understood that he was doing his job but explained that I, too, was doing mine. At that point, he got angry and grabbed the camera from around my neck which jerked my neck forward. At first I put up resistance,” Culbard said, adding that other officers intervened.

Culbard said that the officer, who identified himself as Senior Superintendent Leonard Broomes, handed the camera to an officer in plain clothes and instructed him to delete all photos taken of the scene.

Culbard said: “When I asked his name, Broomes said to me that ‘you all always asking for names as if something will come out of it’. He then instructed another officer to take my name and address, which I gave.”

Culbard added that Broomes also snatched a cellular phone from NATION driver Jeffrey Rock to see if it contained a camera, but there was none.

The heavy handed nature of the intervention is disturbing coming on the heels of the arrest of journalists at the hospital (ironically during another mass casualty operation) I believe at the time the reason given was that the Journalists presented an impediment to doctors in the operation. If the photographer was outside of the cordon, I don’t see how that can apply in this case.

There would seem to be the need for a clear policy on how the police/journalist interactions should take place in these events. It is unrealistic to believe that the press will not be present at a mass casualty situation. It is unrealistic to believe that they will not try to cover the event. While the victims have a right to dignity and privacy, there is the issue of freedom of the press and the right of the public to know. With the lack of a consistent policy on this matter, we will continue to see stories like this in the media.

In the meantime we will await the outcome of the Nation’s complaint.

Marginal

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8 Comments »

  1. It is events like this that gets me really annoyed. I have found over the years that the media never report in depth analysis on articles of interest to the public and I personally was upset by this as I believe the people have a right to know (even if privacy is retain to avoid unnecessary embarassment to others). But with this article and the hospital article earlier this year, it leaves me to wonder why such investigative reports are not published. Is the media being held back? Is there politics or prejudice with regards to getting to the real truth? What is there to hide? Do the police think they are above the law? Do the police think they will fully get the trust of the public when they pick on innocent people?

    The worse thing that can happen is that the story becomes filled with myth and lies. It might make good folklore but it does not do well in determining where the truth really is. This resistance of the media needs to stop. If the media prints/reports the truth as accurately as it can then let it be. It is what we need.

    Comment by D. Longman — July 31, 2007 @ 4:11 pm | Reply

  2. […] Notes From The Margin: Joe’s River Tragedy – Nation Files A Complaint With Police […]

    Pingback by Barbados Reporters Again Assaulted By Police Thugs - But Is The Nation News Reaping What Is Sowed? « Barbados Free Press — July 31, 2007 @ 6:32 pm | Reply

  3. […] Notes from the Margin and Barbados Free Press are concerned about allegations that police officers at the scene of the […]

    Pingback by Global Voices Online » Barbados: Police/Media Clash — August 1, 2007 @ 1:26 pm | Reply

  4. […] Notes From the Margin, on learning that the Nation News filed a complaint with the police department, says: “There would seem to be the need for a clear policy on how the police/journalist interactions should take place in these events. It is unrealistic to believe that the press will not be present at a mass casualty situation. It is unrealistic to believe that they will not try to cover the event. While the victims have a right to dignity and privacy, there is the issue of freedom of the press and the right of the public to know. With the lack of a consistent policy on this matter, we will continue to see stories like this in the media.” […]

    Pingback by Global Voices Online » Barbados: Crop Over Marred by Crashes — August 4, 2007 @ 1:25 pm | Reply

  5. When these things happen I immediately reflect on how we view Africa (a Western concocted view), as a place where people act in an uncivilised manner. I have no doubt that the Officer in question will deny his Africanness but the truth is, with such behaviour the identities are the same.

    Two things I would like to point out: one is that the photographer was definitely assaulted by the Police and second, the Police is not in a position to determine that something which happens in public, is private. They should appeal to a sense of morality rather than abuse journalists. I’m sure that they would get full cooperation.

    On the positive side, a good dose of what can happen may very well bring some drivers to their senses.

    Comment by Roosevelt O. King — August 8, 2007 @ 2:13 pm | Reply

  6. […] Reid’s outright dismissal of the Band leaders’ issues, is one more instance of an arrogant high handed attitude by an officer of the Royal Barbados Police…. Further the Sargeant’s single minded refusal to see beyond the concerns of the constabulary […]

    Pingback by With Respect Sargeant Reid… We Disagree « Notes From The Margin — August 12, 2007 @ 1:00 am | Reply

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