WPLG Needs To Defend Weinsier

Click here at the WPLG site to see video of the arrest (and an accompanying blurb wherein the reporter's own station misspells his name "Weisnier"). It's several minutes long and quite interesting. Weinsier clearly knew he was going to be arrested. wanted it on tape, and refused to obey what he called his "lawful order."

The big question: Was it really a lawful order? Hell no, since it was a public sidewalk and he wasn't doing anything wrong.

The tape also shows him calling his bosses back at the station who FLTV is reporting gave him their consent to go back to the sidewalk. Now apparently WPLG is giving Weinsier flack over possibly violating station policy forbidding its reporters from packing heat (thanks to Stuck on the Palmetto).

But the gun charge appears to be bogus too since there's no evidence he ever stepped on school grounds. This is no time for the station to get nitpicky with Weinsier. It needs to be aggressive with authorities, fight for the right for its newspeople to stand on public sidewalks, and get the charges dropped. It can bicker over internal policy later.

Obviously, I've been in the same situation several times, where I'm certain that police are giving me unlawful orders to leave an area. Just last year I flat refused a Riviera Beach cop's order to leave a public marina (I told him the first thing that came into my mind: "This is a free country") -- and the officer, an assistant chief, relented. What would I have done in this case? Probably just gotten the stinking shot from across the street, since it was good enough.

But Weinsier was fighting for a principle and that's a good thing. He's not the first to get shafted this way in South Florida. Carlos Miller was arrested last year in a similar incident. And we at New Times are quite familiar with it, since freelance photographer Joshua Prezant was arrested on a public sidewalk outside the Social Security Administration building in Fort Lauderdale in 2000. Those charges were later dropped. Why? Because they were bogus. Exactly like the ones against Weinsier.

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