July 27, 2010
By Adam Bink
Last week, NOM Tour Tracker reported that the Courage Campaign Institute’s videographer, Jethro Rothe-Kushel, was threatened with arrest by the Maryland Capitol Police at the NOM rally in Annapolis. You can see the video that Jethro shot of the incident, along with footage of Arisha Michelle Hatch confronting the officer here:
Jethro wrote at NOMTourTracker.com, a project launched by both Courage and Freedom to Marry:
After some secretive communications on his mobile device, and a conversation between Mr. Brown and a police officer, he finally began his rally at about 25 minutes after the hour. Like clockwork, just thirty seconds after the rally finally began, I was approached by the same officer, as you can see in the video.
I then tried to shoot from about 100 yards away at the foot of the square over the heads of a handful of his staffers who he instructed to stay close to the stage. Brown started talking about the aftermath of Prop 8 in California, but just I was about to capture some solid footage of the event, the officer again approached me and quarantined me to a corner across the street. This time he was stronger and came with a threat:
“Don’t make me lock you up!”
As we wrote at the time, Jethro had the right to videotape in a public place. This week, we were proven right, as the Maryland Capitol Police Chief apologized to NOM Tour Tracker for the way in which this situation was handled. His statement to NOM Tour Tracker:
Thank you for contacting me regarding the situation that occurred on July 21 at Lawyer’s Mall in Annapolis. I have thoroughly investigated this incident and have concluded that the situation should have been handled differently.
I regret the way this was conducted and take full responsibility for any inconvenience or embarrassment this may have caused. We are already in the process of instituting corrective training measures to address issues of this nature in the future.
We are also in the process of modifying our website to include the rules and regulations on the utilization of Lawyer’s Mall for both those who apply and are approved for permits, for those who are observing, and for any counter-demonstrators.
Once again I greatly appreciate you bringing this issue to my attention. If I can be of any further assistance, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
Chief of Police
Department of General Services, Maryland Capitol Police
Additionally, Courage Campaign founder Rick Jacobs spoke with Chief Palmere, accepted his apology, and conveyed his appreciation for he and his team for protecting our communities and our freedoms. We at NOM Tour Tracker appreciate Chief Palmere’s sincerity and his service.
Courage Campaign’s press release on this, including a statement from Rick, is in the extended entry.
LOS ANGELES — The recent expulsion and threatened arrest of a videographer covering the National Organization of Marriage’s July 21st Rally in Annapolis, Maryland, prompted the Chief of the Maryland Capitol Police to issue a formal apology on Friday, and a promise to institute “corrective training measures.”
“I have thoroughly investigated this incident and have concluded that the situation should have been handled differently,” said Maryland Capital Police Chief Phil Palmere. “I regret the way this was conducted and take full responsibility for any inconvenience or embarrassment this may have caused.”
The apology came in response to video of the incident in which a Maryland Capitol Police Officer threatened to “lock up” Tour Tracker videographer Jethro Rothe-Kushel after NOM President Brian Brown asked the officer to remove Kushel from their sparsely attended public rally in Annapolis. Kushel had videotaped NOM’s three prior rallies, and even interviewed Brown, without incident.
The Annapolis event took place on the “Lawyer’s Mall,” a courtyard featuring a statue of Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall beneath the phrase “Equal Justice Under Law.” Click here to view the video of the incident: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qe9QNdcRplw
“I have spoken with Chief Palmere, accepted his apology, and conveyed our deepest appreciation to the dedicated professionals who protect our communities and our basic freedoms.” said Courage Campaign founder Rick Jacobs. “Sadly, NOM’s tour to promote discrimination in America has also sought to repress the speech and assembly rights of those trying to cover the tour.”
The Courage Campaign Institute launched the “NOM Tour Tracker” — on July 14th as a chronicle of first hand accounts, photos, interviews and video of the rallies and counter-rallies on each stop of the National Organization of Marriage’s “Summer for Marriage” bus tour of 23 Eastern and Midwestern cities. While refusing to disclose its funding sources, NOM has been a leading sponsor of initiatives to restrict the rights of LGBT families –from California to Maine.
Among other things, the NOM Tour Tracker has shown that NOM’s pro-discrimination rallies have been dwarfed in size by pro-LGBT equality counter-rallies at each stop to date. It has also revealed bizarre behavior and extreme rhetoric by many of NOM’s supporters.
The Courage Campaign has invited NOM to submit posts for its Tour Tracker, and respond to questions from the thousands of people who actively comment on the site. Thus far, NOM has not responded, and has instead stepped up security at its most recent rallies and instructed its supporters not to be interviewed on camera.
Since the Annapolis incident, NOM President Brian Brown has also left the “Summer for Marriage” Bus Tour, and been replaced by NOM Founder Maggie Gallagher.
“We launched the NOM Tour Tracker to give both sides of the marriage equality debate an opportunity to be heard,” said Courage Campaign Institute founder Rick Jacobs. “While we seek a constructive debate steeped in transparency and truth, NOM is showing itself to be a highly secretive fringe group with very little public support and contempt for the U.S. Constitution.”
Click here to view the NOM Tour Tracker: http://nomtourtracker.com.
Courage Campaign Equality is a part of the Courage Campaign‘s multi-issue online organizing network that empowers more than 700,000 grassroots and netroots supporters to push for progressive change and full equality in California and across the country. For more information on “Testimony: Equality on Trial” — our year-long campaign to bring the Prop 8 trial into the lives of Americans — visit http://www.EqualityOnTrial.org