Support for Milwaukee photojournalist Clinton Fillinger
When I found out last month that Clinton Fillinger, a photojournalist at the WITI-TV, the FOX affiliate in Milwaukee, was arrested while filming the scene of a fire, I was outraged. That outrage grew as I watched the video he shot of the confrontation between him and two Milwaukee police sergeants. It clearly showed the two sergeants violating Mr. Fillinger’s rights as a journalist to film a scene from a public street.
If you haven’t had a chance to see the video or the coverage of Fillinger’s arrest, click here on the WITI Fox6Now website.
I knew SPJ had to stand up for Mr. Fillinger’s free press rights. I consulted with our president, Hagit Limor (now immediate past-president) and Region 12 Director Sonny Alborado (now president-elect) about sending a letter to Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn, expressing SPJ’s concern and dissatisfaction with the treatment the two sergeants lauded upon Mr. Fillinger. I also spoke with FOX6 news director Jim Lemon and told him he could count on SPJ’s support as the station fought for the citation to be dropped.
You can read the letter I wrote, on behalf of SPJ, by clicking here.
FOX6 Management, the National Press Photographers Association, and the Radio Television Digital News Association also sent letters to Chief Flynn, asking for the citation to be dropped and an investigation to be opened into the matter.
I’ll keep you posted on any new developments in the case. I see this as a united stand against unjust treatment of a veteran photojournalist. Hopefully, it will be enough for Milwaukee’s police chief to realize the actions of his sergeants violated Mr. Fillinger’s free press and First Amendment rights. I also applaud Clint for standing up for his rights, even though he got arrested in the process.
Unfettered access to those in power, a push for government transparency and a vigorous defense of the First Amendment are perhaps more important now than ever before. Join us as we fight for the public’s right to know as an SPJ Supporter. Or, if you’re a journalist, we welcome you to stand with us as a Professional, Student or Retired Member.