Friday, 18 December 2009

Photogs flamed

Updated re Peterborough and Toronto incidents
Two Toronto Sun photographers were roughed up by security staff during the Olympics torch run in Newmarket today, says a CEP union press release.

Ian Robertson 61, required treatment at hospital for a head injury after being pushed to the ground, says the press release. Dave Thomas was shoved around but not injured.

The press release calls for criminal charges to be laid.

Ian, one of the most laid back guys in the Sun newsroom, no doubt never thought he'd be injured while trying to shoot video at an Olympics torch relay event. A George W. speaking engagement, perhaps, but a torch run?

"This is an outrage," said Brad Honywill, president of Local 87-M of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada. "The Olympics are supposed to represent the highest of human values but the behaviour of the security officers represents nothing less than brutality and cowardice."

There were also reports of media reps being roughed up during Olympics torch coverage in Toronto and Peterborough.

A Toronto Sun story says Frank Gunn, a Canadian Press photographer, was "also on the receiving end of police aggression when a group of officers apparently took issue with him trying to photograph the torch near Front and Church Sts."

Meanwhile, two Peterborough Examiner employees covering the torch run in Peterborough were also roughed up by security guards, says a TSF reader.

"Peterborough Examiner staff reporter Andrea Houston and staff photographer Cliff Skarstedt were also roughed up but not injured during the Olympic Torch Relay in Peterborough as Montreal Canadiens GM Bob Gainey ran the final leg of the relay," says the TSF reader.

"Other media covering the same event also witnessed the security guards rough treatment to Examiner staffers."

(TSF could not find mention of the Peterborough incidents in the Examiner's online coverage.)

It is all kind of a bummer after Toronto Sun vet Mark Bonokoski was pictured on the front page of the Sun proudly carrying a torch in Lakefield.

The Olympic flame has dimmed along its Ontario trek, with a Grafton bypass, a demonstration by aboriginals in Toronto and rough play in Newmarket, Toronto and Peterborough.


  1. Peterborough Examiner staff reporter Andrea Houston and staff photographer Cliff Skarstedt were also roughed up but not injured during the Olympic Torch Relay in Peterborough as Montreal Canadiens GM Bob Gainey ran the final leg of the relay. Other media covering the same event also witnessed the security guards rough treatment to Examiner staffers.

  2. What the hell?
    This Olympic Torch run is a joke. Most run organizers in the various cities the torch is passing through won't tell you the route, the runners or any other information. You'd think they were carrying some sort of state secret. It's a f$#ing stick with fire for christ sake. They want coverage, but don't want to tell you anything. I hope charges are laid against anyone who assaulted a member of the media, or anyone for that matter.

  3. If anything positive could come out of this ugly event, it would be gratifying if this incident led people to see the torch relay and indeed the games themselves for the sickening display of hypocrisy that they really are.

  4. It was outrageous behaviour by the cop.
    He didn't identify himself. He shoved Ian to the ground. Ian was in no one's way. It's pretty sad when we get treated with more respect by gang bangers than we do by cops. Last time I spoke with a Hells Angel, he was cordial, shook my hand and said 'bye. Last time one of us spoke to a Mountie we didn't know was a Mountie, he ends up in hospital with a concussion. Very sad. This is not over by a long shot.
    Rob Lamberti
    Chair, Toronto Sun Unit
    CEP Local 87-M

  5. Thank Christ the "cop" didn't have a Taser.

    Rob Lamberti

  6. The Examiner reporter was roughed up because she jumped onto the road during the torch run. Security had no idea who she was because she had no accredidation so they took her down. Blame security, if you want, or perhaps media types who think everyone should know who they are and treat them differently.

  7. State secret?
    You can find detailed information on the torch's daily route — with approximate times — at the following link:

  8. The torch run is just another exercise in corporate greed and self gratification by the sponsors, who get exclusive promo spots. P C TV, sorry I meant CTV have many of their on air personalities doing a stretch of the run, and describe it as going "like clockwork", but they missed Sun reporter Ian Robertson getting "clocked" in the melee surrounding Louise Russo in Newmarket. It was amazing to see her surrounded by a bunch of unidentified people and CTV cameras before and after her run, with nary an incident involving the RCMP thugs. It should be interesting when they go through Caledonia later this month. The natives are restless there too!

    Bill Sandford

  9. I watched the live webcast of the run Thurs. and was shocked to see how forcefully one photog was shoved to the side by what appeared to be an Olympic official. Now we know they're cops in Olympic gear. Doesn't make it right. Get well soon, Ian.
    Linda Barnard

  10. @anonymous who spoke about accrediation.
    Since the torch run is being conducted on public streets across the nation, one does not accrediaton to take a photo of the run or runners. Any person out there can step out on the street ahead of the torch and get a shot before they are in the 'security' zone around the torch.
    Are you suggesting perhaps the public needs to be accredited to take a photo of the run? And by your suggestion any member of the public that steps out and isn't aware of the security deserves to be pushed down to the ground?
    Yep, that's a great idea. Beat up the public because they don't have some sort of paper that says they are 'official.' Accreditation means nothing at all.
    Would you like the public to start showing their 'papers' to the police/RCMP ahead of the run? Should we even be allowed to stand on the street as some piece of fire is carried past us?
    I'm a member of the media, and I question whether you are or whether you're just a troll on here, and in my area cops don't even pay attention to the accreditation passed out by their own force.
    I don't think I deserve to be treated better than anyone else, I deserve to be treated the same.
    And any officer who does not identify himself first and just shoves someone to the ground, deserves to be arrested, charged, thrown in jail and lose their job. If they are security for the torch, and I understand the need for security around it, then they should be clearly identified as such.

  11. "Media types who think everyone should know who they are and treat them differently"?

    What's this, sour grapes or just general mean-spirited pissiness?

    Ever stop to think that the girl is really fucking over-worked (thanks to the legions of us who lost our jobs this year) was focused on getting a shot and probably didn't stop to think that she was where she shouldn't be?

    And this somehow justified this treatment?

    BTW, it's kind of ironic that Bob Gainey is a personal friend of these two journalist's ME.

  12. So the security is supposed to know that someone is overworked and that's why they hopped out? Really? They are there to make sure the runners and the torch is kept safe. They see someone hop out when they're not supposed and they react. Pretty simple. And how many communities has this torch passed through now? And how many times has this happened? But yea, let's blame security for doing their jobs?

  13. There seems to be this idea permeating in Canada that it is okay to assualt photographers, whether it be by the police or other people who think that they have the right to stop a photographer from taking a picture (there are a lot of "Photo vigilantes" out there).
    Basically, the Charter of Rights says that in Canada, we are allowed to take any picture in Canada in public view and publish it the way we want to without the fear of being assaulted. Honestly, it's getting near time to start having these people charged.......
    Bottom line, if you dont want to be photographed in a public domain, then dont go out there!
    Now, maybe there was some sort of protocol that the RCMP wanted press photographers to follow to help avoid some situations. Well, then publish them somewhere so we can work together to insure a good event without any hitches like this. Don't just assault working photographers because they crossed some imaginary line that was drawn in the sand by the authorities without telling anyone.

  14. A CP cameraman, Frank Gunn I believe, was accredited and he was still accosted by Toronto Police while trying to take a picture from the side.
    Security arrangements on this was absolutely amateurish.
    It's either a public event, or it's not.
    If we're invited, it's understood that we will do our job. Our job includes photography and video.
    J.T., isn't not near time that someone should be charged. It is time.
    It's also time we realize the Charter means absolutely nothing on the streets. Although we keep winning in court, the decisions are completely ignored and disrespected by authorities on the streets.

    Rob Lamberti
    Toronto Sun Unit
    CEP 87M

  15. From what I've read, the security comes from the RCMP - it look like they are just mimicking the bully ways of Mr. Harper, who would gladly run down journos with his SUV ...

  16. Good points Rob and, oh yes, I realize the Charter of Rights doesn't mean anything on the streets to the cops, because they have this idea that it is "Us and them," between police and media. I think it's that kind of cement-headed thinking that is pulling this once great country into the toilet. It's a shame that our rights and freedoms are being trampeled on by the very people we trust to enforce our rights, freedoms and laws.
    It's funny because I now look at our RCMP of becoming a version of police that we saw in "A Clockwork Orange." Unintelligent bullies who enforce the law with a billy club.
    Over 25 years ago, when I was still serving proudly in Canada's military (one United Nations tour), I wanted to be with the RCMP. Now, I'm glad I didn't go that route.
    I found it interesting, my friend was in a Law and Security program taught by former Niagara Regional Police officers at the local college. He told me that when it came to talking about media photographing scenes, acccidents, whatever, that they were told to basically treat us like we had no business being there. This was about eight years ago he was in the program. As they were dealing with this unit on working with media, it became clear to me that they had no idea what their local media's coverage policies actually were (when I was at the Tribune we basically had a "no body" rule).
    My point is that this "Us and them" attitude is being taught to police and prospective police at introductory levels. Police treat the media like criminals . Funny, because in all my years, my record and conscious is clear, never having committed a crime. So, why should I be treated like a criminal when exercising my rights and freedoms as a Canadian citizen in my country that I served.

  17. Addendum to my comments of earlier.
    I find that todays society has fostered a lot of "photo vigilantes" out there who think it is all right to assualt professional and amateur photographers for various reasons. Basically, an example might be a father taking pictures of his kid at a soccer game, getting some other kid in the photo and the other parent gets upset threatening the father with some sort of lawsuit or even some sort of violence unless he deletes the photos. Basically, in Canada, it is not illegal to take photos in a public place, it is not illegal to publish the photos in any way you see fit. It is illegal to assualt people, even verbally, definately physically. Photography is not a crime, assualting a photographer (whether professional or amatuer, is).
    I started up a Facebook group, Photography is not a crime... for anyone that has any thoughts on this subject, perhaps even resources to add to it.

  18. Nobody should be knocked to the ground over a stupid torch. Seriously.