Update below: Editor responds to arrest:
The editor of an online Alaska news site says he was handcuffed and detained by private security guards working for Republican Senate candidate at a town hall meeting. Watch:
Tony Hopfinger, editor of the online Alaska Dispatch, tells KTUU-TV that security pushed him as he tried to question Joe Miller on Sunday. He says he pushed back and that guards then detained him, accusing him of trespassing at the public event in Anchorage.
The Dispatch is among the media outlets suing for access to Miller’s personnel record from his time as a government attorney.
Miller security guard William Fulton says Hopfinger was escorted away from the meeting after ignoring requests to stop putting a camera in the candidate’s face.
The Anchorage Daily News reports that “Hopfinger was handcuffed by the guards and detained in a hallway at Central Middle School until Anchorage police came and told the guards to release him.”
Hopfinger has not been charged but the owner of the Drop Zone, private security firm that’s been providing Miller’s security, accused Hopfinger of trespassing at the public event, a “town hall” meeting 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 up to the District Attorney’s office to decide whether to prosecute.
The Anchorage Daily News also reported that Hopfinger’s recording of the event also mysteriously disappeared from his camera during the brouhaha.
“One of the guards grabbed Hopfinger’s video camera,” the paper said. “Later, Hopfinger said that when he got the camera back, the segment covering the span of the arrest was missing. An Anchorage police officer offered to take the camera into custody and have it examined in the crime lab to investigate whether evidence had been destroyed, but Hopfinger declined. He said he needed the camera and the remaining video for his work.
“The guard who grabbed the camera said Hopfinger had dropped it in the scuffle and denied erasing anything. The guard wouldn’t give his name.”
A statement from the Miller campaign placed the blame on an “irrational blogger.”
The Miller campaign was required by the facility to provide security at the event. Even though Joe had spent nearly an hour freely answering questions from those in attendance, the blogger chased Miller to the exit after the event concluded in an attempt to create and then record a ‘confrontation’ with the candidate. While Miller attempted to calmly exit the facility, the blogger physically assaulted another individual and made threatening gestures and movements towards the candidate. At that point the security personnel had to take action and intervened and detained the irrational blogger, whose anger overcame him.
The campaign claims that security officials did not know they were detaining a blogger that had been reporting on Miller.
Hopfinger responds to Huffington Post
“Getting handcuffed by somebody you don’t know at a public school, no one had said it was a private event or cast it that way, I mean intimidated, yeah [I was]. But I guess I was more pissed off. Miller, I felt, was going to answer my question on the reprimand part,” Hopfinger told The Huffington Post Monday.
Hopfinger explained that he followed Miller through the school hallway in an effort to get an explanation for the use of Fairbanks Northstar Borough equipment in a failed 2008 attempt to oust state Republican Party Chairman Randy Ruedrich.
“I figure I’m at a public school and they are telling me I’m trespassing,” said Hopfinger. “And it was just a matter of seconds, I’m challenging this trespass issue and the next thing you know they got me detained and I’m in handcuffs and they put me in another corridor of the building. So for 25 minutes no one even knew where the hell I was… They said we were going to call the police and I said, ‘Fine, call the police.’”
Hopfinger and his paper are considering taking legal action. But “at the end of the day, I would just prefer to see Mr. Miller [answer the questions],” he said.
Information from: KTUU-TV, http://www.ktuu.com
Source: AP News