The long arm of the law in Rockingham County wadded up the Constitution and flushed it down the toilet last week, raiding the offices of the James Madison University in Harrisonburg and seizing hundreds of photographs the newspaper took of an off-campus riot the weekend before.
Editors of The Breeze refused to turn over the photographs when Rockingham County Commonwealth’s Attorney Marsha Garst demanded them, so Garst showed up with a search warrant and half-dozen cops Friday and took them.
The Breeze had photographers at the off-campus gathering of more than 8,000 people to celebrate Spring Break. It turned nasty and some 200 cops donned riot gear and sent tear gas into the mob. Some cops were injured and a statement from the president of JMU called the incident “an embarrassment.”
Yes, it was but not as much of an embarrassment as the police ignoring freedom fo the press and trampling on the rights of the student newspaper.
Kathis Thisdell, editor of The Breeze, was right to refuse to turn over the photographs. News organizations should not turn into an arm of the police. Garst is a prosecutor out of control and liberty took it on the chin in Rockingham County.
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