After the May Day marches were over and all the protesters were back at Government Plaza for a continued rally, I approached a group of more than a dozen officers who were standing around in a group and asked who was in charge. I wanted to get a police account of what happened with the break off march and subsequent arrest, and ask a few follow-up questions.
"You're in charge," a sheriff's officer (pictured, far left) quipped.
After holding up my press badge and with my notebook in hand, I asked again, saying something to the affect of, "no really, I am writing an article. Who is in charge?"
"You are," he said again, while the other officers stood by watching.
To which a number of officers started grumbling, one saying I should call spokesperson Susan Danielsen (which would have sufficed as a disappointing yet appropriate response in the first place), and another saying, "You write whatever you want to anyway at YES! Weekly."
I was dumbfounded at the lack of professionalism and respect. Not that I've never been treated poorly by law enforcement before, but never while at work and when clearly identified as press. So I responded, saying more or less that I was press and just trying to write an article.
"You're not press, you're just writing stories," a police officer said.
I will never ask that police officers like this publication, or me, but the entire exchange made me feel like I was in middle school again. What's next? I thought. I know you are but what am I? Your mom is in charge?
Soon after I took a photo of the officer because he didn't have his name or a badge number on and a photo would be the only way to identify him (see below).
"I'm not intimidated by having my picture taken, I've had it taken plenty of times," he said.
"I'm not trying to intimidate you, I'm doing my job sir," I replied.
Later police approached demonstrators as they packed up, and I walked over, camera in hand, in case there was a confrontation. Everyone was on edge and police had surrounded the rally after the break off march, and I thought something might happen.
Within ear shot of me, officer JW Ryals asked another officer who I was, and while I didn't hear the response, Ryals sarcastically responded, "I'm a big fan of that magazine."
"I'm glad you like our work," I said back.
"I didn't say which magazine," he responded.
Welcome to the 5th grade.
[The only previous interactions I had with any of these officers yesterday was to repeatedly identify myself as press and say I was taking photos, including to the sheriff's officer pictured. They didn't say anything to me other than to get back (to which I complied) and I didn't say anything to them until I approached them as explained above. To my knowledge I have never interacted directly with any of these officers before.]