G20 Media Arrests Press Conference

Melissa Hill – Statement at Press Conference on September 28, 2009
Thomas Merton Center – Pittsburgh, PA
Hosted by: Thomas Merton Center/Twin Cities and Pittsburgh Indymedia/Glassbead Collective NYC

I’m Melissa Hill a journalist working with Twin Cities Indymedia to help cover and take footage of the events surrounding the G20 Summit. On the evening of Friday, September 25, I was videotaping footage of the rally and crowds and police presence in the Oakland area near the University of Pittsburgh. I was mass arrested with a group of about 30-40 people – many students, medics, protesters, and at least 3 other journalists including others who worked for both corporate and independent sources. I was wearing a press badge during this entire time leading up to the arrest and repeatedly identified myself as a journalist after the arrest.

I was filming the event including the moment we were told to lay on the ground and my camera was still rolling. Immediately a riot cop approached me and told me to stop filming and this “will not be another Seattle”. They snatched my camera away from me and eventually placed it on my other side of me out of my possession. I shouted out that this was my camera and none of the arresting officers acknowledge it.

We were escorted from the grass area to the street and my bag, press pass and a plastic bracelet were all removed. My booking officer was a bit kinder and after requesting my missing a camera that I noticed sitting on a windshield of a police van with other people’s stuff. He asked for identifying information about the camera and I mentioned the brand name and a description. He left with the camera and the rest of the stuff to put it in a garbage bag along with my press pass that was cut off of me.

During the detainment process, I was brought to the SCI Pittsburgh facility and greeted by both civilian and military personnel who were in charge of booking and guarding the “detainees” in this facility. I along with what appeared to be at least 50+ detainees had to submit to digital fingerprints, health questions and tests, and sitting around for hours being guarded by National Guard and military personnel. I was finally released at around 5 a.m. the next morning. Immediately after leaving the facility, I checked to see if my camera was in there and to see if my footage was there – the footage was missing! My camera was also broken and is now unable to record anything.

As of today, I have no knowledge of being formally charged with anything (UPDATE – 2 Charges of Disorderly Conduct and Failure to Disperse) – however in the arresting process, I lost the footage that lead up to the mass arrest and highlighted some disturbing instances of police misconduct that occurred in that area that evening. It is outrageous that I along with others was not able to properly and thoroughly cover all the events and let the whole world know what was going on.