Ongoing student protests at the University of Missouri over campus race relations have dominated the media over the the past several days. Now a new video showing the group blocking a student photographer is sparking controversy and discussion about press freedom.
The 6.5-minute video above shows student photographer Tim Tai being blocked from a public area of campus on Monday while on assignment for ESPN.
Wow. Didn't mean to become part of the story. Just trying to do my job. Thanks everyone for the support.
— Tim Tai (@nonorganical) November 10, 2015
Concerned Student 1950, an activist group at the center of the protests, had created a small tent city on the campus quad, and they didn’t want photographers and journalists approaching the area. The students formed a human wall and accused Tai of invading their personal space and not respecting their privacy.
“You don’t have a right to take our photos,” one of the students tells Tai. Others begin chanting: “Hey hey, ho ho, reporters have got to go.”
“I have a job to do,” Tai responds. “I’m documenting this for a national news organization […] This is the First Amendment. It protects your right to stand here and protects mine.”
Near the end of the video, the person behind the camera, Mark Schierbecker, is approached by a woman identified as mass media assistant professor Melissa Click. Click grabs Schierbecker’s camera, orders him to leave the area, and then shouts: “Who wants to help me get this reporter out of here? I need some muscle over here.”
“We’re documenting historic events with our photographs, and when people are crying and hugging when Wolfe resigns, it becomes a personal issue that people all over the country can connect with,” Tai tells the New York Times, which reports that he won a top award in a college journalism contest earlier this year.
“It’s my job to help connect those people to what’s going on,” Tai says.”