America

Reporter Handcuffed By Senate Candidate's Security Guards In Alaska

Reporter handcuffed

hide captionAttorney John McKay, second from left, and Alaska Dispatch founder and editor Tony Hopfinger, right, talk to Anchorage Police after Hopfinger was detained and handcuffed by the security detail for Alaska Senate candidate Joe Miller at a Miller town hall Sunday Oct. 17, 2010 in Anchorage, Alaska

Bill Roth/Anchorage Daily News

The editor of Alaska Dispatch, was grabbed, handcuffed, and detained by private security guards working for Republican Senate candidate Joe Miller at an election rally in Anchorage, Alaska. Tony Hopfinger was trying to interview Miller after the event when the guards grabbed him, handcuffed him and held him in a hallway for about 30 minutes. They told him he was "under arrest." And they threatened other journalists with the same treatment if they spoke with Hopfinger.

Hopfinger was released when police arrived at the scene.

The Alaska Daily News had a reporter on the scene who spoke with Hopfinger despite being threatened by Miller's security.

Hopfinger has not been charged but the owner of the Drop Zone, the private security firm that's been providing Miller's security, accused Hopfinger of trespassing at the public event, a town hall sponsored by the Miller campaign. The owner, William Fulton, also said Hopfinger assaulted a man by shoving him.

Anchorage Police who responded to the call said they would leave it to the District Attorney's office to decide whether to prosecute. They spent more than an hour taking statements, then left.

Hopfinger, who was holding a small video camera, said he was attempting to draw out a statement from Miller on why he was disciplined by the Fairbanks North Star Borough when Miller worked there as a part-time attorney. After Miller walked away, Hopfinger said, he was surrounded by Miller supporters and security guards and felt threatened, so he pushed one of them away.

That's when the guards grabbed him. The Miller campaign put up a statement on its website titled "Liberal Blogger “Loses It” at Town Hall Meeting."

At that point the security personnel had to take action and intervened and detained the irrational blogger, whose anger overcame him. It is also important to note that the security personnel did not know that the individual they detained was a blogger who reporting on the campaign. To them, the blogger appeared irrational, angry and potentially violent.

The question Miller didn't want to answer involves whether he used government computers for partisan political purposes. The Alaska Dispatch, the Fairbanks News-Miner and the Anchorage Daily News all have sued the Fairbanks North Star Borough to gain access to Miller's personnel files.

No charges have been filed against anyone in relation to the event at the moment.

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