What First Amendment? Virginia State Police Forced BBC Journalists to Delete Video

BBC journalists at the scene of shooting suspect’s car crash were threatened if they did not delete video as ordered.

So I assume you have all heard that a homosexual African American shot and murdered two straight whites on live TV. This was, of course, not a hate crime and never will be labeled as one.

This story from PRI caught my eye and makes me wonder why we even claim to have a First Amendment: “Virginia police order BBC journalists to delete footage of suspected shooter’s crash.”

BBC reporters Franz Strasser and Tara McKelvey encountered a big obstacle in their coverage of a double slaying of journalists at a Virginia mall.

The two reporters were covering the manhunt of the suspected shooter when they were ordered to delete footage by police. On Wednesday night, Corinne Geller, the statewide public relations manager for the Virginia State Police, tweeted at Strasser.

The incident occured after Allison Parker, 24, and Adam Ward, 27, were fatally shot while reporting live for WDBJ7 at a shopping mall in Monetta, Virginia. The woman they interviewed was also wounded.

During the ensuing manhunt, Vester Lee Flanagan, the suspected gunman, shot himself after police chased his car. The Virginia State police issued a statement on their Facebook page:

“The suspect vehicle refused to stop and sped away from the trooper. Minutes later, the suspect vehicle ran off the road and crashed. The troopers approached the vehicle and found the male driver suffering from a gunshot wound. He is being transported to a nearby hospital for treatment of life-threatening injuries,” the report says. Flanagan later died, the BBC reported.

The BBC reporters, Strasser and McKelvey, were reporting from the scene of the crash when they were told by police to delete their video footage.

What I find especially insulting about this is that it happened to BBC journalists. I don’t know if they are British themselves, but it is galling to have a British media outlet learn just how flimsy our Bill of Rights really is. What is the point of having a First Amendment if the police can simply order censorship?

If this is how police treat major reporters, no wonder so many of them want to outright ban onlookers with mobile phones.