Reporters Might Need A Credential From The City To Cover Future Rallies In Kalamazoo

Aug 31, 2020

KDPS Chief Karianne Thomas, left, and Assistant Chief Vernon Coakley on a Zoom call with media today.
Credit Sehvilla Mann / WMUK

The City of Kalamazoo is considering issuing its own press badges to reporters covering protests. That’s after public safety officers arrested an MLive reporter earlier this month. He was covering a Proud Boys rally that ended in a violent clash with counterprotestors.

At a virtual press event today, City Manager Jim Ritsema said a city-issued badge could safeguard reporters’ rights.

“When these split second decisions need to be made, we can make sure that the press is protected and observers, so they can perform their important role,” Ritsema said, adding that the city was still working out the details and would look to other communities for guidance.

MLive says reporter Samuel Robinson was wearing a press badge and a MLive backpack when police arrested him. But Assistant Public Safety Chief Vernon Coakley suggests they were hard to see.

“We certainly do not want to continue or have this happen again,” Coakley said.

KDPS has apologized for the arrest.

The city says it plans to release footage from the rally this week or next.