Chavez showed up to shoot footage of the Regents meeting at the UCSF
Mission Bay campus today. He wanted to catch the Regents getting out
of their "town cars and shuttle buses" as they went into the meeting, so he camped out with his hand-held camera in the parking lot outside a
barrier where police were
issuing people stickers required for entry.
Instead, he said, the campus
police grilled him on his intentions -- though he assured them he wasn't filming them. "Even
if I were, is that against the law?" he asked SF Weekly. Police Captain Jon Easterbook "assumed I was recording the
officers standing right there. I said 'I'm not recording them, you can
see for yourself. He said '...You can't be recording these officers.'"
the U.C. Police and Easterbrook couldn't be reached for comment, U.C.
spokesman Pete King said Chavez contacted U.C. staffers yesterday to
give them a heads-up he was coming to film. King says they'd told him it would help if he brought some sort of credential or letter in order to gain entry into the roped-off media section. Chavez did not do so, the spokesman says, and he wouldn't give them a straight story regarding who he is or who he was representing. (Chavez counters that cops asked if he had an ID but no one requested he bring one.)
"If he had just come in as an audience
member he could of sat in the audience and filmed," King says. "He could
say 'I'm Joe Public Citizen' and film away. But he wanted to do the media
thing. We were still going to let him in, but we heard from the campus
police they had a problem. They thought he was filming some of their
security and getting people going in and out of elevators." Chavez says
he was filming regents as they walked by him and into the building -- where
there were elevators indoors.
Chavez says he asked U.C.
Office of the President spokeswoman Lynn Tierney whether he could
just sit in the audience and film. He says she said no. Just audio? No.
"It was crazy," Chavez says. "All I was trying to do was get some B-roll
footage for this film I'm working on on and they made it seem like a
complete private skull-and-bones society," he says.
The filmmaker was accompanied by a representative from the American Federation of State
County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) -- the union that represents the
laborers on U.C. campuses. The union rep called up Yee's chief of
staff, Adam Keigwin, who then called up university officials demanding answers.
says Tierney told him only "credentialed media" could get into the
meetings. Keigwin then looked up the government code section 11124.1,
stating that any member of the public has the right to record a public
meeting, and that no state body can prohibit the broadcasting of its
meetings -- unless the recording poses a "persistent disruption of the
proceedings." Yee's office then issued a press release: "UC Regents
Break Open Meetings Law," complete with fighting words from the
California Newspaper Publishers Association legal counsel and the AFSCME
U.C. officials are defending their move, claiming turning away Chavez was not their call. "We were going to
accommodate him and he was in until the police raised questions, and
they control the room of who gets in and out," claims King.
is befuddled by the entire mess. "There's going to have to be some
changes because this is a public meeting and access is nowhere near
where it should be."
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