TORONTO, June 24, 2021 /CNW/ – The News Photographers Association of Canada (NPAC) strongly condemns the actions of the Toronto Police Department after members of the working press corps were prevented from entering a public park and one photojournalist was arrested as members of the media attempted to cover an unfolding news situation on public property.
“The actions by members of the Toronto Police Department to prevent members of the working media from having their constitutionally guaranteed right to report freely is unacceptable,” said NPAC president Diana Martin. “Such actions by police impinge the media’s rights to do their jobs, and ultimately interferes with their right to freedom of expression and freedom of the press. This situation is particularly egregious given the journalists were covering breaking news happening in a public area.”
On June 22nd, Ian Willms, an internationally recognized photojournalist, was arrested and his photography equipment confiscated as he attempted to cover the removal of homeless encampments by Toronto Police Department members at Trinity Bellwoods Park. Eye-witness accounts and video footage show officers detained Willms despite his clearly identifying himself as a photojournalist and displaying his National Press Photographers Association credentials.
“I think this speaks to a climate of fear that the police have us under as journalists,” Willms said. “There’s no actual legal footing for them to follow through with convicting you.”
Five other journalists at the scene allege police blocked their access to the fenced area and one photojournalist alleges there was physical contact.
“Canada is a democratic country, but we are seeing more and more instances of police preventing members of the working press from doing their duty to report the news to Canadians,” said Martin. “Our organization calls for action in what amounts to the erosion of our democracy.”
NPAC formally requests the Toronto Police Service issue an apology and details on how similar incidents can be avoided in the future through the training and education of officers.
NPAC celebrates and champions quality and ethical photography in journalism. Through a variety of efforts, the association challenges its members to better themselves and to continually raise the bar of industry standards.
This national organization includes over 300 professional press and documentary photographers, photo editors and photojournalism students from across Canada.
SOURCE News Photographers Association of Canada