Student Journalist Detained By Police for Cow Pictures

[Ed. Note: The six-part Iraq Voice series will resume on Monday.]

A pair of apparently “agitated, angry, nervous, and certainly dangerous” cows recently dashed to freedom on Ohio State University’s campus, prompting a police chase and tranquilizer shots.

Alex Kotran, a photographer for The Lantern, OSU’s top-notch student newspaper, quickly raced to the scene to snatch pics of the cow-tastrophe. (Hey, I tried.  SPLC has “bovine blunder.”  I like that better.)

Case closed?  Not quite.  An apparently agitated, angry, nervous school official demanded he stop snapping shots.  He rightfully responded with reminders about public property and press freedom.  As the cattle continued their short-term stampede, campus cops intervened.

A Student Press Law Center report: “Kotran was then approached by an Ohio State University police officer, who asked him to leave because the situation was dangerous, he said. After relocating, Kotran said he was then approached a second time by police and asked to leave his second location. He said that although he ‘complied immediately,’ he was then handcuffed and told he was under arrest.”

The Lantern: “He was detained, handcuffed and is facing a misdemeanor charge of criminal trespass. . . . ‘[A police officer] told me I was under arrest,’ Kotran said. ‘I advised him that I was on public property, and he started talking about Supreme Court cases and stuff.’ Kotran said he was detained ‘for about 10 minutes.'”

My take: Kotran should not have been treated like cattle.  Handcuffs should not be used as a tranquilizer to quality, law-abiding journalism.  He was obviously not close enough to be in harm’s way, however “dangerous” the cows may have been.  (Were they mad science experiments gone wrong? I mean, we are talking about cows, right?)  Whether OSU police ultimately call it an arrest or just a detainment, it still makes student press advocates angry, agitated, and nervous.

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  1. […] those out of the loop, in late April, Alex Kotran, a top-notch Lantern photographer, boldly raced to cover the escape of two “agitated, angry, nervous, and certainly dangerous” cows on OSU’s campus. […]