Student newspaper staff detained by officers
Police hold journalists for two hours to force them to turn over tapes
MINNESOTA — Student journalists at St. Cloud State University were detained in their office for two hours in April while police demanded a recording the newspaper staff made of a public forum.
According to an Associated Press report, the forum discussion could involve criminal allegations about local police.
Six newspaper staff members were kept for about two hours in the University Chronicle’s office while police officers guarded the door.
“They showed up with a search warrant that said they were ready to search the University Chronicle’s office,” Ryan Voz, the newspaper’s editor, told the AP. “It could have been used more as a scare tactic to hand over the tapes. Of the six people in the office, no one knew where the tapes were located.”
Police left after they talked to both the newspaper’s adviser and attorney.
St. Cloud Police Chief Dennis O’Keefe had no comment on what the police sought on the tape, but did say that the police were conducting a criminal investigation. Bill MacPhail, assistant Stearns County attorney, said there would not be another search attempt.
The tape had to do with something said at a university forum on racism in February, according to Voz. Police had tried to locate the comments on raw tape at the university radio station, KVSC, but were unsuccessful because the tape had already been taped over.
Mark Anfinson, the newspaper’s attorney, told the AP that the search violated a federal law that prevents newspapers from being searched unless they are the ones being investigated.
“We all agree that the newspaper will preserve the tape and that the city’s option is to seek a subpoena rather than a search warrant,” he told the AP. “We’re not the first call for help, and too often authorities try to make it that.”
reports, Spring 1998