News  Community journalist arrested on the job

Camera operator charged with ‘hindrance’

During a mass arrest of 71 demonstrators Wednesday morning, CUTV camera operator Laith Marouf was surrounded by police and arrested for hindering Montreal police.

Concordia’s campus-community television station, CUTV, had a team of three journalists to live stream Wednesday’s demonstrations, beginning at 7:30 in the morning. CUTV has been broadcasting live from many demonstrations throughout the course of the unlimited general strike protesting tuition increases.

One of the CUTV reporters present on Wednesday morning, Sabine Friesinger, said that CUTV filmed the arrests due to actions on the part of police.

“[Police] were really beating people into a circle basically – so with clubs and batons, and the shields pushing on people – really brutalizing for no reason because, at that point, the crowd had already dispersed and so we were filming that kind of police action,” she said.

While demonstrators were being kettled, Marouf – program director and CUTV’s cameraperson for the live broadcast – was surrounded by police and his video equipment seized.

“They grabbed the equipment and they arrested him,” said Friesinger. She explained that, after she and CUTV’s tech person insisted, the equipment was returned, and the live stream recommenced. CUTV has released the footage leading up to Marouf’s arrest.

Marouf has been charged with hindering police action. He was held separately from other demonstrators who were arrested and, according to CUTV manager Laura Kneale, CUTV’s lawyer had difficulty getting in touch with him.

Friesinger felt that the police “clearly targeted” CUTV’s camera.

“I think they really today targeted the fact that we were showing images live of police actions, what kind of actions they were doing. They clearly knew because we were identified in the crowd, we have a sign up saying CUTV live, and they really, I think, wanted to shut that down,” she said.

Kneale said that no CUTV reporter has been arrested before today.

On Wednesday Kneale said CUTV would likely “put in a formal complaint with the Service de police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM)’s déontologie.” The Code of ethics of Quebec police officers is commonly referred to as the SPVM’s déontologie, meaning “professional ethics” in French.

The station is holding a press conference Thursday morning to formally announce what measures it will take.

Marouf was unavailable for comment.