An update on that recent story about Alex Kotran, a photographer for the student newspaper, “The Lantern” at Ohio State and the incident involving demon cows.
A first year student, Kotran was out taking pictures of campus cops and others, trying to round up a couple of cows that escaped from the agriculture department. One of the cops decided Kotran shouldn’t be there and he ordered him to go away. First Amendment be damned, I guess. Maybe he just doesn’t know about it?
Long story short, Kotran, who reportedly never got closer than 50 yards to a cow, refused to stop doing his job. He moved to a different location but kept shooting pictures. The cop didn’t like that and slapped on the cuffs, taking him into custody under suspicion of criminal trespass. This guy was going to charge an Ohio State Student, a photographer for the campus newspaper, with criminal trespass for taking photos of something that was happening on the campus of Ohio State? What nonsense.
Today, the Lantern reports that the “university does not believe that the situation warrants the filing of criminal charges.” How big of them. How magnanimous. However, they still want Kotran to meet with the police for a discussion of how “his actions put him in harms way and caused danger to others.” Unbelievable.
The University, by its statement, is assigning blame to Kotran, even before the meeting takes place? These are supposed to be educators?
Rather than supporting the First Amendment, freedom of the press, and the right and need of journalists to do what they are supposed to do — getting the story, Ohio State has decided to provide cover for its campus police by forcing Kotran to go in for a wrist slapping.
This sounds like one cop was miffed because a journalist refused to respect his authority. Never mind that his orders may have been unlawful.
Okay, fine, I wasn’t there, but it sounds like Ohio State needs a reality check. If campus police believe the First Amendment doesn’t apply to student journalists, then the University should stop hassling this photographer and look into the possibility of problems with police procedure.
As far as putting himself and others in harms way, that’s the same old cop-out the cops use every time they overstep their bounds. Sounds like that’s exactly what’s happened here. Either way, OSU should conduct an investigation before issuing a statement assigning blame.
Kotran, by the way, is apparently still under the threat of a review by the University Judiciary Committee. Apparently, he could still be expelled for photographing runaway cows for the campus newspaper.
These guys at Ohio State really need to get out of their ivory tower more often. What an embarrassment for the University.
Late Update: The Lantern reports the police fired eight shots at one of the cows, hitting it four times. The newspaper reports the shots were not fatal. The cow, a pregnant “Belted Galloway” worth around $2,800 is apparently doing well. An initial statement from campus police indicated deadly force was not used.
I’m a country boy from Minnesota. Lots of cattle there. Thousands. This is the first time I’ve heard of anybody feeling a need to open fire on a cow, or a bull, for that matter, except for some out of control hunters who were mixing alcohol with buckshot.
This is looking more and more like the campus police may have overreacted and are now looking for something (or someone) to hide behind.
The Society of Professional Journalists of Central Ohio, has sent a letter of support for Alex Kotran, to the University.