Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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October 18, 2010

GOP SENATE CAMPAIGN 'ARRESTS' JOURNALIST.... I've occasionally seen items that characterize Alaska as being like "a whole different country." It would have to be, since in the United States, Senate campaigns don't try to take journalists into custody.

The editor of the Alaska Dispatch website was arrested by U.S. Senate candidate Joe Miller's private security guards Sunday as the editor attempted to interview Miller at the end of a public event in an Anchorage school.

Tony Hopfinger was handcuffed by the guards and detained in a hallway at Central Middle School until Anchorage police came and told the guards to release Hopfinger.

Hopfinger has not been charged but the owner of the Drop Zone, the private security firm that's been providing Miller's security, accused Hopfinger of trespassing at the public event, a town hall sponsored by the Miller campaign.

I'm not a lawyer, but I don't see how it's possible for a member of the media to be "trespassing" at an event open to the public, and held on public property.

I wasn't there, and not surprisingly, accounts vary on exactly what transpired. Based on a variety of accounts, Hopfinger sought comment from Miller about allegations of professional misconduct, which the extremist candidate refuses to address before the election. Miller walked away, and his private security team, all wearing radio earphones, quickly surrounded the reporter. Feeling threatened, Hopfinger reportedly pushed one of the guards away, though the man who was shoved was not injured.

At that point, according to accounts, guards grabbed Hopfinger and placed him in steel handcuffs. The private security team also grabbed Hopfinger's camera, and according to the reporter, a recorded portion of his "arrest" had been deleted, though Miller's guards, who refused to be identified, denied erasing anything.

And just to make this truly extraordinary, when other media professionals on hand for the event tried to cover the incident, Miller's private security team tried to prevent them from talking to Hopfinger -- and threaten to "arrest" them, too. The guards also said photographs in the public hallway at the public event were prohibited, though this chilling shot was taken anyway.

The right-wing Miller campaign issued a statement blaming Hopfinger for the incident, but neither the campaign nor the bizarre candidate were willing to answer questions about what transpired. Hopfinger, meanwhile, was released from handcuffs when local police arrived, and at this point, no charges have been filed against anyone.

Miller, a fringe lawyer, is running on a platform premised on his alleged love of the Constitution. He may want to re-read that part about the Bill of Rights.

And in the larger context, I can't help but wonder: is this what the Tea Party crowd has in mind for America's future? In their version of "limited government," should we expect extremists candidates to hire private security forces with the power to detain reporters who ask candidates about their background?

Is this their vision of American "freedom"?

Steve Benen 8:40 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (58)

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Comments

The campaign is blaming the reporter?

Then why did they seize his camera and erase all the shots of the incident? Because it made him look bad? No way.

Posted by: TR on October 18, 2010 at 8:41 AM | PERMALINK

Amazing. This is what Republicans--and all too many Democrats--would have America become:

A private police state.

That private security can handcuff and detain an American citizen at a public venue should give even the nuttiest TeaTard pause.

But if the 'detainee' is obviously a liberal, it's all good. Geesh.

Posted by: terraformer on October 18, 2010 at 8:44 AM | PERMALINK

Bush has "free speech" zones.

This is the next facist step.

Posted by: madstork123 on October 18, 2010 at 8:50 AM | PERMALINK

Let's just remember what Republican strategists would do with this were it a Democrat behind the arrests: turn it into a cause celebre that represents something much larger than it actually is. In this case, it's a perfect, easily digestible snapshot of the cowardly disdain that current Tea Party/Republican candidates have for both the American people as a whole and the democratic process. For the next week, this should be brought up every time a Democrat appears on TV or radio. But, of course, they won't.

Posted by: C. on October 18, 2010 at 8:52 AM | PERMALINK

Let's not get carried away with all this talk of fascism and police states. I'm sure once Miller is elected and he has no need for thugs to protect him, he'll have them rounded up and summarily executed.

Posted by: hells littlest angel on October 18, 2010 at 8:56 AM | PERMALINK

For the far right, love of freedom and the Constitution are code phrases for tribalism. You're free to be a white, Christian, heterosexual, free-market fundamentalist, gun lover. Otherwise, there's something wrong with you and you deserve every bad thing real Americans can devise for your type.

Posted by: walt on October 18, 2010 at 8:56 AM | PERMALINK

"Is this their vision of American "freedom"?"

Pretty much.

Posted by: stevio on October 18, 2010 at 8:56 AM | PERMALINK

We should call people like Miller "little Putins".

Posted by: CarlP on October 18, 2010 at 9:04 AM | PERMALINK

So I take it he's not pressing charges?

Posted by: Fr33d0m on October 18, 2010 at 9:09 AM | PERMALINK

Assault. Battery. Unlawful restraint. People joke about the republican party being a criminal conspiracy but here it's pretty clear.

Posted by: paul on October 18, 2010 at 9:12 AM | PERMALINK

I wouldn't characterize this as an "arrest." It seems more in line with kidnapping. I mean, even if a citizen arrest scenario needs to allege some wrongdoing.

Posted by: jhm on October 18, 2010 at 9:12 AM | PERMALINK

This would be different if the thugs with earpieces were CDC cops arresting a man for not eating his daily servings of fruits and vegetables (see the loon in Georgia who talked about that).

Posted by: Eeyoure on October 18, 2010 at 9:12 AM | PERMALINK

If I were the Democratic contender in Alaska,I would be using this picture all over the place to identify this is what the tea party wants to do to America. The tea party wants to ensure Americans have NO free speech including on intranet,NO freddom of religion and NO right to vote!

Posted by: MLJohnston on October 18, 2010 at 9:23 AM | PERMALINK

AND YOU thought I was kidding when I called Tea Party candidates a bunch of proto Huey Longs (although to be fair Long used State Police, not private security.).

People really need to read the New Yorker article on the Cold War Roots of the Tea Party in last week's New Yorker and to understand what we are up against.

Posted by: KurtRex1453 on October 18, 2010 at 9:28 AM | PERMALINK

Hopfinger should file criminal charges, then sue the living shit out of both the the "private security firm" and the Miller Campaign.

Posted by: bdop4 on October 18, 2010 at 9:31 AM | PERMALINK

Has Alaska granted private security guards the same powers as Mall Cops?

Posted by: martin on October 18, 2010 at 9:33 AM | PERMALINK

If there is not a deafeningly loud and unified condemnation of this brazenly illegal act from media organizations and journalists all over the country (except for FoxNews, of course), then it will be a final confirmation that the First Estate in America is irretrievably rotten, corrupt, and dead.

If there is not a deafeningly loud and unified condemnation of this brazenly illegal act from Democrats at all levels of local, state, and federal government, then it will be a final confirmation that the Democratic Party is irretrievably rotten, corrupt, and dead.

I have absolutely no confidence that either institution is still alive.

Posted by: bluestatedon on October 18, 2010 at 9:33 AM | PERMALINK

Miller is a thug and a crook, he has taken every bit of government help he could, a real sponger, for unemployment for his wife to medicaid for his kids, for farm subsidies and let's not forget the 30,000.00 bonus Alaskans get from out taxes because he has so many children.
While on my soapbox, has anyone else noted that Rand Paul whines constantly?

Posted by: js on October 18, 2010 at 9:34 AM | PERMALINK

Miller will be either safely broke , or safely sitting in a senate seat , before any back wash gently rocks his paranoid palace .

Posted by: FRP on October 18, 2010 at 9:39 AM | PERMALINK

If there is not a deafeningly loud and unified condemnation of this brazenly illegal act from media organizations and journalists all over the country (except for FoxNews, of course), then it will be a final confirmation that the First Estate in America is irretrievably rotten, corrupt, and dead.

The media is the Fourth Estate. The First Estate is the clergy...which is still, in large part, irretrievably rotten, corrupt and nearly dead.

Posted by: Frank on October 18, 2010 at 9:40 AM | PERMALINK

So what? So a candidate for the US senate has his own paramilitary force, and has begun to take prisoners?

Big deal. Honestly, some people get worked up over the silliest things.

Posted by: Shrillhouse on October 18, 2010 at 9:41 AM | PERMALINK

Private security guards (square badges, goons, or as in this case, Facist thugs) have no power to arrest and no power to detain or handcuff anyone on public property. THEY SHOULD BE ARRESTED IMMEDIATELY !! for assault and for false imprisonment. If their actions can be linked to Miller, he should also be arrested for conspiracy to commit those felonys. The US Attorney General should immediately open an investigation of the criminal violation of the the reporter's civil rights under Federal Law, because this action was taken under 'color of law'. The reporter should also retain a lawyer and file a civil suit.

This is one more example of the galloping Facism taking hold in the USA. Mussolini and Hitler had their Brown Shirts and Black Shirts, Miller has "Drop Zone".

Posted by: robert on October 18, 2010 at 9:44 AM | PERMALINK

Miller is a very small man who has to resort to hiring out physical intimidation.

All because the only answer to the questions show him for what he really is.

He's a punk. Jesus. Just a punk.

Posted by: jcricket on October 18, 2010 at 9:44 AM | PERMALINK

I don't know anything about Alaska criminal law, but it's clearly tortious. Assault, battery, false imprisonment, the kind of stuff 1-L Torts exams are made of.

Posted by: Another Steve on October 18, 2010 at 9:49 AM | PERMALINK

I've often wondered what these free market types really think about traditional public monopolies like policing. This incident gives one a pretty good idea. Presumably when President Palin invades Iran, it will be with an army provided by corporate America.

Posted by: davidp on October 18, 2010 at 10:06 AM | PERMALINK

how are they not embarrassed by these candidates? ken buck paladino allen west odonnell sharron angle? these have got to be some of the worst candidates ever. shouldnt being a damn us senator mean something? shouldnt you prepare yourself and educate yourself to be the best person to represent your constituents? these guys are absolutely a joke and a damn shame that they will be representing anyone.

Posted by: allamr18 on October 18, 2010 at 10:07 AM | PERMALINK

The First Amendment -- how does it work?

Here's what I find so stunning:

When "Dr." Laura drops the n-word eleven times in about 3 minutes and gets heat for it, the right bemoans how she's having her rights trampled upon -- there's lots of "Woe is us!" and the usual clutching of pearls.

I wonder what they'll say about someone who falsely arrests a journalist (who was on public property) for daring to ask a question?

My guess: They'll defend the arrest, thus proving they've never read the Constitution. In fact, I'd love for someone to quiz them on what's in the Bill of Rights.

Bet ya $100 they don't have a f***ing clue.

Posted by: Mark D on October 18, 2010 at 10:13 AM | PERMALINK

is this what the Tea Party crowd has in mind for America's future? In their version of "limited government," should we expect extremists candidates to hire private security forces with the power to detain reporters who ask candidates about their background?
Is this their vision of American "freedom"?

-=-=-=-=-=-=-

Clearly. It's astonishing that you have room left for doubt, to be honest.

Where are the right-wing voices raised in support of individual rights? They are interested in individual rights only so long as the individual in question is one of them; and they don't really mean "rights" so much as "privilege".

Wrapped in the flag, and carrying a cross.

Posted by: Fleas correct the era on October 18, 2010 at 10:13 AM | PERMALINK

This shit is getting really ugly. And it's so wrong on so many levels.

The Republicans have trashed the MSM so thoroughly, and indoctrinated their legion with the anti-news FOX, that they no longer have to answer ANY questions they don't want to.

Meanwhile, the physical detainment of a reporter asking an important but uncomfortable question is no problem for them.

Meanwhile, a president who has done essentially everything he promised to do in the amount of time he said he would has been so maligned that even his own party hates him.

Meanwhile, the SCOTUS makes it possible for the Republicans to out-raise Democrats thanks to corporate "people."

Meanwhile, a fair number of the party's candidates are all but certifiably insane.

Meanwhile, these people are going to be put back in control a mere two years after they destroyed the world.

At this point, I don't think the Republicans can be stopped. It's a massive corporate takeover of a nation that's been literally fattened and lulled to ignorant sleep.

And it's only Monday.

Posted by: chrenson on October 18, 2010 at 10:18 AM | PERMALINK

Oh dear!

Is Alaska and Miller implementing Sharia Law?

Does Angle know what is going on in Alaska?

Posted by: MikeBoyScout on October 18, 2010 at 10:24 AM | PERMALINK

The editor of the Alaska Dispatch website was arrested by U.S. Senate candidate Joe Miller's private security guards

Joe Miller has his own goon squad? Who's paying for that?

Posted by: kc on October 18, 2010 at 10:34 AM | PERMALINK

Your final sentence sets up the potential for a series of creative ads that DEMS should be putting out there...this latest fiasco in AK being just one chapter...sadly I don't believe even a glimpse into what AMERICA will be like with REPUGS anywhere nearer to POWER would matter to the low information/ignorant (and happy that way) voters we have developed here!

Posted by: Dancer on October 18, 2010 at 10:36 AM | PERMALINK

yeah, it depends on the state, but the potential charges include kidnapping, false imprisonment, impersonating a police office, terrorist threats, assault, battery, etc. However, the local prosecutor would have to be interested. The police who initially showed up did not arrest and file charges, but instead treated them all as knuckleheads. IANAL, because if I were, I'd know if there was a civil case that could be made without the criminal one.

Posted by: Rathskeller on October 18, 2010 at 10:49 AM | PERMALINK

Is this their vision of American "freedom"?

Is this a trick question?

Posted by: Quaker in a Basement on October 18, 2010 at 10:53 AM | PERMALINK

Why do teabaggers hate America so much?

-Z

Posted by: Zorro on October 18, 2010 at 10:58 AM | PERMALINK

Miller and Palladino are competing for fascist of the month. Score this one point for Miller.

Posted by: rramos on October 18, 2010 at 11:54 AM | PERMALINK

Viva Che!

Posted by: Potfry on October 18, 2010 at 12:15 PM | PERMALINK

Is this their vision of American "freedom"?

Of course not. This is their vision of American fascism. It's what they really desire. Concentration camps for liberals, gays, brown people. Don't think for a moment they wouldn't do it if they thought they could get away with it.

Posted by: Screamin' Demon on October 18, 2010 at 12:36 PM | PERMALINK

Why am I not surprised at the security detail's haircuts but by their suits instead? I expected brownshirts.

Posted by: sparrow on October 18, 2010 at 12:37 PM | PERMALINK
Is this their vision of American "freedom"?

Once you've adopted "Arbeit Macht Frei" into your politcal platform, then yes, it's exactly their vision.

Posted by: Snarki, child of Loki on October 18, 2010 at 1:01 PM | PERMALINK

This is what happens when you look the other way while the Vice President admits to torture.

Other like-minded motherfuckers start thinking they're above the law as well.

Posted by: Winkandanod on October 18, 2010 at 1:44 PM | PERMALINK

Don't forget his response to the border question - build a wall. "If East Germany can do, so can we." Though as horrifying as an (unlawful) "arrest" of a reporter is, we mustn't lose sight of the extreme sentiment publicly stated before the display of jackbootery.

Posted by: Bella Q on October 18, 2010 at 1:44 PM | PERMALINK

Hopfinger is part of the "liberal media". I'm sure he was just asking for it.

Just as the rape victim Ken Buck refused to go to bat for had "buyer's remorse".

Holy cow.

Posted by: Hannah on October 18, 2010 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, as long as the political repression is all private-sector, everything's cool!

Posted by: SqueakyRat on October 18, 2010 at 2:18 PM | PERMALINK

Steve Benen wrote: "Is this their vision of American 'freedom'?"

If I were Hopfinger, this would be my vision of "freedom" -- freedom from ever having to work again, that is, since I could live comfortably for the rest of my life on the multi-million-dollar proceeds of my lawsuit against Miller and his security firm.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on October 18, 2010 at 3:20 PM | PERMALINK

"Feeling threatened, Hopfinger reportedly pushed one of the guards away, though the man who was shoved was not injured."

So it's okay to go around shoving people, then.

Posted by: Jim Treacher on October 18, 2010 at 7:28 PM | PERMALINK

"So it's okay to go around shoving people, then."

Did you notice the "Feeling threatened" part of the quote, Treacher? It certainly looks like Hopfinger had a better provocation for shoving someone than Bill O'Reilly ("waaah, the big mean man is blocking my shot") did when he did the same thing to an Obama bodyguard.

Posted by: daniel rotter on October 18, 2010 at 9:11 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, so it's okay to go around shoving people if you "feel threatened."

Posted by: Jim Treacher on October 19, 2010 at 12:27 AM | PERMALINK

Absolutely, it's called "self-defense."

Posted by: daniel rotter on October 19, 2010 at 1:20 AM | PERMALINK

Jim Treacher, ladies and gentlemen:
Proud defender of private goon squads helping insane and cowardly candidates from answering the questions of reporters.
And, yeah, don't give me that crap about shoving one out of a bunch of, assumedly professional security people. I was being grabbed by a group of thugs, I, too, might, you know, try to break free.
You utter moron.

Posted by: HMDK on October 19, 2010 at 5:39 AM | PERMALINK

HMDK, everybody: defender of doofs who go around shoving people because they "feel threatened." And yeah, don't give me that crap about the same rules applying to everybody. You sad little child.

Posted by: Jim Treacher on October 19, 2010 at 7:40 AM | PERMALINK

shorter Jim Treacher: "she was asking for it by dressing that way."

By their own account, the hired goons didn't illegally assault the photographer for shoving one of them when they cornered him, they illegally assaulted the photographer because they claim he was "trespassing" in a public school. They didn't call the police and say that a guy had "shoved" them, they called the police and said a guy was "trespassing," when in reality their only concern was that their candidate not get asked any embarrassing questions in front of voters that might show him up for the moron that he is.

The "shoving" claim only came afterward as a lame attempt to defend their indefensible, and illegal actions.

Epic fail on their part and that of their defenders.

Posted by: yep on October 19, 2010 at 10:42 AM | PERMALINK

Shorter yep: "That guy was lying when he said he shoved somebody."

Posted by: Jim Treacher on October 19, 2010 at 10:57 AM | PERMALINK

Learn to read, asswipe. The photographer admitted he shoved the hired goon. That fact is stipulated in my comment. But that's nothing but a red herring because that's not the reason they the goons gave for assaulting him. That was just a post facto defense they gave for wrestling a guy to the floor and handcuffing him when they had no authority to do so.

If I'm walking to a my table at a restaurant, to a door, to a cashier to a bathroom -- wherever -- and some goons off the street block my way and tell me I can't go there, sure as shit I I'm gonna shove them out of my way and I have every right to.

Posted by: yep on October 19, 2010 at 11:03 AM | PERMALINK

Learn to write, son. If the guy admits he shoved somebody, you're going to have a tough time selling him as some sort of political prisoner.

Posted by: Jim Treacher on October 19, 2010 at 11:21 AM | PERMALINK

It's not a matter of selling anything, it's a matter of what's legal and what's not. I'm sure you'll remember that when I truss you up like a pig the next time I see you because I don't want you around my candidate.

BTW, Miller's people aren't even mentioning the shoving in subsequent interviews. They're sticking by their story: they asked this guy to leave because, and I quote, they thought he looked like a "violent" type (he's a pudgy blogger) and they reserve the right (which they don't possess) to throw anyone out of their events. Without identifying themselves (they were just wearing suits) they told the Hopfinger to leave. He didn't. So they threw him up against a wall and handcuffed him.

http://www.alaskadispatch.com/dispatches/news/7187-miller-guard-says-editor-refused-to-leave-private-event

Posted by: yep on October 19, 2010 at 11:30 AM | PERMALINK

If I shove you and get handcuffed for it, I promise not to cry like a girl.

Posted by: Jim Treacher on October 19, 2010 at 12:00 PM | PERMALINK

I highly doubt it. You're already crying like a girl because somebody criticized thugs for handcuffing a guy. Let me guess: one of them is your boyfriend?

Posted by: yep on October 19, 2010 at 12:10 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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