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Video cameras confiscated at town hall

Aug. 24, 2011 at 11:04 PM   |   Comments

CINCINNATI, Aug. 24 (UPI) -- Police, acting at the direction of aides to U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Ohio, confiscated video cameras from two Democratic activists, a Chabot spokesman said.

The incident occurred Monday in Cincinnati, where Chabot was attending a town hall meeting, Cincinnati.com reported Wednesday. Chabot spokesman Jamie Schwartz told the Web site he had a Cincinnati police officer confiscate the cameras "to protect the privacy of constituents."

Signs were posted on doors at the North Avondale Recreation Center indicating no video cameras were permitted, but Cincinnati.com noted at least two media outlets covered the meeting.

In a letter to Cincinnati Solicitor John Curp, Hamilton County Democratic Party Chairman Tim Burk asked for an explanation of "the legal basis for the seizure and the enforcement by Cincinnati police of rules created by the congressman."

Schwartz said a Chabot staff member asked a police officer to take the cameras from David Little and Liz Ping, who were given the cameras back at the end of the meeting.

"The officer was very nice about it, and we politely and cordially defended our right to record a public official speaking in public in a public building," Little said. "What are they afraid of?"

Schwartz told Cincinnati.com constituents sometimes ask questions at town hall meetings about personal matters. He said cameras operated by the media at the meeting were permitted to keep recording "because they can be expected to respect people's privacy."

The Web site said attendees at the Monday town hall were required to write out questions in advance for Chabot. Schwartz said no cameras would be seized at Chabot's next town hall meeting, scheduled for Monday.

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