A case of police caution or a censorship attempt?
That’s the question I’m pondering in relation to a Purdue Exponent photo editor who police detained for questioning earlier this week.
Michael Takeda was detained and his equipment confiscated after he attempted to photograph the building where a campus shooting occurred earlier in the day.
Cody Cousins, 23, is accused of fatally shooting another student at about noon Jan. 21 in the Electrical Engineering building. Cousins was arrested within minutes of the shooting, but the campus remained on lockdown for about an hour.
Photo Editor Takeda went to the building a few minutes after the shooting occurred, hoping to photograph the scene. The building had not been closed off to the public, according to an article on The Exponent Online.
Takeda used a skywalk between buildings to enter the engineering school and take photos, according to a post on the Student Press Law Center website. He was on his way out of the building when he was confronted by police officers with a stun-gun who forced him to the ground and confiscated his cameras, the SPLC reported.
Takeda was put into a West Lafayette Police Department vehicle before being taken to the campus police station for questioning and later release, according to the SPLC. Police gave Takeda back his cell phone, but did not return his cameras.
Takeda told SPLC that police seemed concerned about whether he had taken photos of blood.
SPLC Executive Director Frank LoMonte, citing the Privacy Protection Act, helped Takeda get his equipment back from campus police. Takeda reported that all of his photos appeared to be on the cameras.
I’ve seen my share of attempts at censorship, but I’m not convinced this was one.
I don’t have an explanation for why the police returned the student’s cell phone and not his cameras. However, I think crazier things could happen following a shooting on campus.
I’m also not sure the student was detained because he was taking photos. It seems clear to me that the student was in a building that still was on lockdown, even if he didn’t see that indicated. It was a building where a shooting had just occurred. I don’t blame the police for being on high alert and stopping anyone they saw, including a student in the crosswalk between buildings.
What do you think? Is this an attempt a censorship, a case of caution by police or both?
Regardless, I am happy that SPLC stepped in and helped the student get his equipment and photos back.