Jailed for 13 Hours for Photographing the Governor at Inaugural Parade
January 15, 2007
Ken Krayeske, a freelance journalist and political activist in Connecticut, went to take pictures of Governor Jodi Rell’s inaugural parade on January 3.
“It’s inexcusable,” says Connecticut Representative Mike Lawlor, head of the state’s House Judiciary Committee, of the arrest of Ken Krayeske. “There was no probable cause.”
While taking photographs, he was arrested for breaching the peace and interfering with an officer. He was jailed for 13 hours and slapped with a $75,000 bond, which was later lifted.
“This really, really sucked,” he wrote on his website, the40yearplan.com, on January 5.
Even more disturbing to civil libertarians in Connecticut, the state police and the Hartford police evidently had a list of people who might disrupt the inauguration, and Krayeske’s name was on it. They even had photographs of him.
“I’m shocked by this,” says his lawyer, Norman A. Pattis. “He’s never articulated a threat to do bodily harm to anyone. He did openly discuss going to her inaugural ball to protest, but that is protected political speech. The fact that he was on some list and that he was arrested just for taking photographs is chilling in the extreme. It’s a case of someone being singled out for political reasons.”
Here is some background on Krayeske. He was the campaign manager for Green Party candidate Cliff Thornton, who ran against Rell. On the trail, Krayeske raised a stink with Rell about her decision not to debate Thornton. And back in 2003, Krayeske was arrested for criminal trespass at an anti-war rally at a U.S. Treasury building. (One last thing, in the interest of full disclosure: The Progressive magazine paid some of Krayeske’s expenses for a reporting trip he took to Syria in 2005.)
“We’re not in the business of arresting journalists. We’re not in the business of arresting protesters,” says Nancy Mulroy, spokeswoman for the Hartford police. “We’re in the business of protecting and preserving the peace.”
According to Mulroy, here is what happened.
“Officers observed him riding a mountain bike at a high rate of speed directly up to the parade route. He dumped the bicycle and ran up to the parade procession directly up to where the governor was passing,” she says. “In the judgment of officers, based on the history of this individual, and after a briefing by state police earlier in the day, he was taken into custody and charged with breach of peace and interfering with police. We stand by that.”
The police are “making it up as they go along,” says Pattis. “He had already taken a lot of photographs, and at no point did anybody show any alarm.”
“I am really not at liberty to discuss the particulars of the case,” Krayeske tells me.
“I am a professional photographer. I shoot with $6,000 worth of digital equipment, and on the day of the inaugural parade, I was shooting with that camera outfit. That is really all that I can say at this point about the situation at the parade.”
State Representative Mike Lawlor is chairman of the Connecticut House Judiciary Committee, a post he has held for 13 years now. He also teaches criminal law. And he is not happy about Krayeske’s arrest.
“It’s inexcusable,” says Representative Lawlor. “There was no probable cause.”
Lawlor says he plans on holding hearings and possibly introducing legislation to exercise oversight on how the state police deals with threats of civil disobedience and how it compiles its lists.
“If you were a cop attending this briefing,” he says, “you would have thought, ‘Wow, this guy must be dangerous.’ You’d think this guy was an assassin, or something.”
Lawlor believes law enforcement “got a little carried away.”
“In the post 9/11 era, with all the anti-terror money, and with state police and local police working together, you can see the possibilities there to overreact,” he says.
The mayor of Hartford, Eddie Perez, as well as Governor Rell herself, have asked for an inquiry into Krayeske’s arrest.
“In this environment of heightened security, the use of information must be balanced with the individual rights of our citizens,” Rell said. “We cannot permit the rights of individuals to be trampled.”
Krayeske faces trial on January 30.