Missouri students, professor take heat for blocking photojournalist from capturing protests

Nov 11, 2015

Gannon Burgett

Gannon Burgett is a communications professional with over a decade of experience in content strategy, editing, marketing, multimedia content creation. He’s photographed and written content seen across hundreds of millions of pageviews. In addition to his communications work for various entities and publications, Gannon also runs his multimedia marketing agency, Ekleptik Media, where he brings his expertise as a full-stack creator to help develop and execute data-driven content strategies. His writing, photos, and videos have appeared in USA Today, Car and Driver, Road & Track, Autoweek, Popular Mechanics, TechCrunch, Gizmodo, Digital Trends, DPReview, PetaPixel, Imaging Resource, Lifewire, Yahoo News, Detroit Free Press, Lansing State Journal, and more.

Missouri students, professor take heat for blocking photojournalist from capturing protests

Nov 11, 2015

Gannon Burgett

Gannon Burgett is a communications professional with over a decade of experience in content strategy, editing, marketing, multimedia content creation. He’s photographed and written content seen across hundreds of millions of pageviews. In addition to his communications work for various entities and publications, Gannon also runs his multimedia marketing agency, Ekleptik Media, where he brings his expertise as a full-stack creator to help develop and execute data-driven content strategies. His writing, photos, and videos have appeared in USA Today, Car and Driver, Road & Track, Autoweek, Popular Mechanics, TechCrunch, Gizmodo, Digital Trends, DPReview, PetaPixel, Imaging Resource, Lifewire, Yahoo News, Detroit Free Press, Lansing State Journal, and more.

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TimTaiIIThe University of Missouri has been a hotbed for protests over the past week as students fight back against administration for all but ignoring a handful of racially-charged incidents that have occurred over the past few years.

Although the school administration is at the center of the protests, a new video has come out showing the students, who have set up a small camp on the public school’s quad, blocking student photojournalist Tim Tai – on assignment from ESPN – from capturing the protests.

In the below video, you can see Concerned Student 1950, a student-led activist group whose name is derived from the year black students were first allowed on campus, form a wall to block out any and all media from the tent site they had set up.

YouTube video

In the background of the video, you can hear students shout out ‘you don’t have a right to take our photos’ as Tai attempts to capture the scene. Tai promptly responds by stating ‘I have a job to do […] I’m documenting this for a national news organization […] This is the First Amendment. It protects your right to stand here and protects mine [to photograph].’

Behind the camera is fellow photographer Mark Schierbecker, who is approached near the end of the video by mass media assistant professor Melissa Click, who has been taking heat for her actions and statements.

In the video, you can see Click grab Schierbecker’s camera, command him to leave the area and yell to other protesters, ’who wants to help me get this reporter out of here? I need some muscle over here.’

Screencap of mass media assistant professor Melissa Click pointing for Mark Schierbecker to vacate the premises.
Screencap of mass media assistant professor Melissa Click pointing for Mark Schierbecker to vacate the premises.

Local and national media, as well as fellow students, have called for Click to be removed from the communications department – different from the journalism department – for interfering with Tai’s attempt to document the protests, an act protected by the very amendment she and the Concerned Student 1950 group are protected by as they protest on public property.

The below tweet is an official statement from Schierbecker on the incident:

https://twitter.com/Schierbecker/status/663903250291146752

Some people have taken it too far though, sending death threats to Click for her actions, prompting her to shut down her Twitter account. In defense of her and the other students seen in the video, Tim Tai released the following series of tweets:

Missouri Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder also made an official statement on the matter, sending out:

On Sunday I stood by the rights of protesters to have their voices heard while also urging the need for governance by University of Missouri leadership. Today, I’m standing for another First Amendment right, the freedom of the press. Actions on Monday by University faculty and staff to infringe on students’ First Amendment rights directly contradict what is taught at our universities. This incident must be examined, and if found necessary, disciplined.

Faculty and staff cannot be allowed to pick and choose which rights, viewpoints and freedoms they respect. I renew my call to restore law and order on campus, so the rights of all are protected. The University of Missouri is funded by taxpayers. It is imperative that it be a place where freedom is paramount and all voices are heard.

Click has since released a formal apology for her actions and resigned her courtesy appointment with the Missouri School of Journalism.

Click Apology

This is far from the end of it, but it seems tensions between the media and protesters is dying down after many apologies, including the above, have been made.

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Gannon Burgett

Gannon Burgett

Gannon Burgett is a communications professional with over a decade of experience in content strategy, editing, marketing, multimedia content creation. He’s photographed and written content seen across hundreds of millions of pageviews. In addition to his communications work for various entities and publications, Gannon also runs his multimedia marketing agency, Ekleptik Media, where he brings his expertise as a full-stack creator to help develop and execute data-driven content strategies. His writing, photos, and videos have appeared in USA Today, Car and Driver, Road & Track, Autoweek, Popular Mechanics, TechCrunch, Gizmodo, Digital Trends, DPReview, PetaPixel, Imaging Resource, Lifewire, Yahoo News, Detroit Free Press, Lansing State Journal, and more.

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