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JOURNALISM IN THE AMERICAS Blog

California police chief accused of intimidation for sending armed officer to reporter's house to demand correction



A police chief in California is facing accusations of intimidation and censorship after sending an officer to an Oakland Tribune reporter's home at 12:45 a.m. to demand changes to an article, reported the Oakland Tribune. on Friday, March 9.

The California Newspaper Publisher's Association is calling the middle-of-the-night visit to reporter Doug Oakley's house “the most intimidating type of (censorship) possible because the person trying to exercise it carries a gun,” according to the Associated Press.

Berkeley Police Chief Michael Meehan was upset over an article published earlier that he said misquoted him. The article said the chief had apologized for the department's slow response to the beating of a 67-year-old man who died, but the chief claimed that he actually only apologized for not informing the public sooner about why the response was slow.

The First Amendment Coalition said the problem is not that the chief wanted a correction, but rather that he sent an armed officer to a reporter's house in an intimidation attempt and a "violation of the First Amendment," the Huffington Post reported.

The Chief later apologized to the Tribune, saying “I would say it was an overzealous attempt to make sure that accurate information is put out." In response to public outcry, the chief said he is ordering a review of the police department's media policies, reported the news site Berkeleyside.


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