“I’m On A Public Sidewalk”–Overzealous Police Detain, Then Release, CT Post Journalist Covering Protest

Footage of me getting arrested in #Bridgeport while covering a #JusticeforJayson protest on the two-year anniversary of his death. pic.twitter.com/4zEFIHSKj9

— Tara O’Neill (@Tara_ONeill_) May 10, 2019

Connecticut Post reporter Tara O’Neill, a responsible journalist who covers police, was handcuffed and briefly taken into custody by city police on Thursday while covering a demonstration to mark the second anniversary of the death of 15-year-old Jayson Negron who was shot to death by a city officer following pursuit of a stolen vehicle. The officer was hit by the driver side door and then fired a round killing Negron. State prosecutors cleared Officer James Boulay of criminal wrongdoing describing his actions as justified.

Negron’s death has produced passionate opinions from community members who seek justice for the killing and police supporters who argue Boulay was doing his job. O’Neill has written about the Negron case for two years including this recent article family, friends gather on 2-year anniversary.

A police phalanx on Thursday ordered people off a Downtown Street. O’Neill, on video, is heard saying “I’m on a public sidewalk” prior to taken into custody.

Screen shot of police ordering pedestrians off street.

O’Neill wrote on her Twitter page:

I was released after being handcuffed, put in the back of a cop car and taken to booking. The officer who arrested me profusely apologized and said he didn’t know I was the media. I was not charged. I was not put into a holding cell. Others arrested were.

To clarify: I was handcuffed, put into a police cruiser, taken to booking, patted down, my belongings were taken down for inventory and put in a bag … I was told they could release me on a written promise to appear. Then, I was let go without charges.

Tara O’Neill. From her Twitter page.

From the CT Post story:

“The fact that a local journalist was arrested for doing her job and reporting on the actions of police and protesters is extremely troubling, and the public deserves a full explanation of how it happened and what steps will be taken to make sure that the freedom of the press and the public’s right to know is not infringed upon like this in the future,” Matt DeRienzo, vice president of news and digital content for Hearst Connecticut Media, said after O’Neill’s arrest.

“Tara O’Neill is a dedicated reporter who is well-known to Bridgeport police and police leadership. There’s no chance this was a case of mistaken identity. They arrested a reporter while she was doing her job.”

Mayor Joe Ganim called the protest a “very difficult situation.” Ganim told DeRienzo he didn’t want to interfere or tell Bridgeport Police Chief Armando Perez what to do, but he said he urged the chief to consider that O’Neill was not part of the protest and would be “violating her job” if she was doing anything other than covering the story.

Full story here.

State Senator Marilyn Moore, a candidate for mayor, joined a gathering of protesters outside of police headquarters where 11 people in connection with the demonstration were detained. They’ve been released on bond.

Screenshot from Marilyn Moore Facebook page for mayor.

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44 comments

  1. “I’m On A Public Sidewalk”. What is that supposed to mean?
    If police officers order a crowd to disperse, you leave the area.
    O’Neil had already filed her report. She completed her assignment. She apparently stayed with the protesters and violated the orders of the police officers.

    1. Tom White, the mostly caucasian police walking in the street are specifically telling protesters to get out of the street and onto the sidewalk.

      The reporter was not in the street at any point. She was on the sidewalk the entire time quietly recording the police. She identified herself as a reporter.

      Our U.S. Constitution guarantees a free press.

      We need to tie Chief Perez around Mayor Ganim’s neck as we go door to door this Summer.

      Everyone needs to get off their sofa and take action. Posting on OIB is not enough

    2. She was not finished with her assignment if the protest was still going on. She was there to report on what the police were doing.
      Police said to get out of the road. She was on a sidewalk. She identified herself.
      It sounds like you would prefer she not report what the police were doing. A press release from Rowena in the morning OK with you?

      1. The arrested reporter posted Rowena White’s press release. It is as idiotic as she is.

        She stated the CT Post reporter did identify herself as a reporter and was wearing her press badge, however it was not in an obvious place. Then idiot Rowena White had the nerve to state that the reporter was not wearing any identifiable clothing indicating she was a CT Post reporter.

        Can someone please tell me when they have ever seen a newspaper reporter wearing identifiable clothing?

        Instead of just apologizing profusely and owning that the arresting officer was out-of-line, Rowena White is attempting to place blame on the arrested reporter because she didn’t where her reporter “uniform.”

  2. We are a community by geography, by cultures, by history, etc. but what we do NOT have is COMMUNITY POLICING.
    We have police offices around the City and/or in one or more housing units of Park City Communities but the men and women of the Department are not there on any regular or sustained basis to build relationships, especially for the officers unfamiliar with people of Bridgeport.
    And we have Carolyn Vermont holding regular Bridgeport Community Collaborative for Youth meetings at City Hall Annex(today at 9 AM) but what agenda is posted to move a person, young or older, from an email invitation to a meeting? And Kingsley Osei has a Youth Summit today from 9:30 AM-2 PM at HCC with a program that includes some serious content plus food and music. Who are the 300 youth expected? Were they in the crowd last night? Or are they a separate community?
    Aren’t all of us due respect as citizens? What story was playing in the minds of City leaders, Mayor and Police Chief, when the second anniversary of the Negron death approached? Was this a lost opportunity to engage the community in showing progress during the 24 months?
    What is the full story? Time will tell.

  3. This clearly demonstrates the disconnect of Mayor Ganim and Chief Perez with the community of people of color in Bridgeport. Bridgeport police displaying a tough guy attitude when empathy and a sympathetic heart would have better served all involved.

    Bridgeport has four paid chief’s and a former FBI agent working on its behalf and this is the example of good policing that is put forth. They say when you know better you do better except when you’re Mayor Ganim or Chief Perez.

  4. When the riots broke out in after the LA police officers were found not guilty in the beating of Rodney King April 29-May 1, 1992 the students of Central High School in Bridgeport had a walk out and they march from City Hall to downtown. NAACP , President got a notice ahead of time and asked if members of the Firebird Society would walk with the students from Central because of concerns about how the police would respond. We had no problem in walking with our own children no matter who their parents are because they were our children and we had a responsibility to them. Mayor Ganim and Police Chief Perez are so out of touch, they have no understanding of people of color.

  5. “Mayor Joe Ganim called the protest a “very difficult situation.” Ganim told DeRienzo he didn’t want to interfere or tell Bridgeport Police Chief Armando Perez what to do”

    This statement is the problem you have when as Mayor,you hand place your friend into a leadership position that they aren’t qualified for.In any other city,the Mayor would voice his displeasure with the chief’s decision making,and possibly discipline.The disconnect between the police and the people in our city is a timebomb,and really needs to be addressed.

  6. The Bridgeport Police Chief and couldn’t control a very small group of marchers without using the tactics that they used, well what are they going to do at the next march which wilbe bigger and with some pissed on how the marchers we’re treated last night. I wonder how many of those police officers reside in Bridgeport or if they ever lived in Bridgeport.

    1. Ron,
      Their are a lot of things that can be done on both sides to ensure the safety of all involved. I am speaking from experience.
      I was there just moments after Jayson Was shot two years ago and believe it or not, The Officers on scene were just as upset as the protesters that he laid there uncovered for hours. It was a very long and emotional night and the Officers there used great restraint as protesters attempted to antagonize us into an altercation. They were unsuccessful on that evening.
      All I can say is both sides need to show restraint and understand each other and start a dialogue.
      If the protesters want to have a voice, come back in November and go door to door so we can have change during the next election. That would have an impact on this great City!!!

      As a side note, if you are at a protest and Officers tell you to move, I suggest you MOVE! If you don’t agree with the Officers actions, their are avenues to take to make a complaint, but PLEASE Don’t resist or fight back at that time because that will not end well. That’s not the time to stand your ground. Do it the right way….. #Keepthepeace

      1. Frank, no justice no peace, blacks have been told to wait and don’t rush things because change will come, Frank, those days are gone, when you don’t have hope and there’s no change there’s no need to wait, wait for November, PLEASE, the hell with November when those in power don’t know your pain.

  7. Frank, are saying that just because a police officer say move it then people should acquiesce their 1st Amendment right to Freedom of Assembly guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States? Need I remind you, “The First Amendment states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

    So when a people exercise this right and it’s denied, they have no other redress other than to file a complaint? That sounds a lot like Jim Crow to me. People of color today are seeing their constitutional rights abridged on a daily basis with no other explanation other than because I said so! That wasn’t acceptable during Jim Crow and it sure as hell isn’t acceptable in 2019.

    1. Donald,
      You said “People of color today are seeing their rights abridged on a daily basis”? Are we talking about around the Country or in Bridgeport? I’m saying if you wanna do some good in this city, teach kids how to interact with Police. They teach every thing else in school, that could be a course taught in school.
      See , I’ve seen it all in the BPD in 25 years. The Irish ran the Department in the 60’and 70’s, The Guardians took over from 1983-2012 and now the Hispanic Society runs the place. You wanna talk about race issues? SHIT, I could write a book. Hey Lennie, let’s write a book together…….
      It’s 2019, let’s move forward, not live in the past……. #Enoughalready

      1. Hey Frank Cuccaro, Ron Bailey wrote a best seller. I hear Hollywood is in talks with Ron about a movie deal. Don’t confuse the Hispanic Society with the Cuban Club.

  8. Frank, you have no knowledge of the Civil Rights Movement in the late 1950’s and all throughout the 1960’s when protesters were taught how to respond when sitting at lunch counters and not being serve and being hit and spit on by whites and then being arrested or being hit by the police and bitten by police dogs while marching for the right to vote like whites. Michael Brown got shot down dead and was left in the street under covered for over 5 hours in Ferguson in August 2014, well here we are in 2019 and the Bridgeport Police Department still hasn’t learned the lesson from Ferguson and their riots cause by the police. No justice no peace.

    1. Ron,
      You are correct, I have no knowledge of the 50’s and 60’s other than what I read. You sound like you are full of hate my Brother…. So, what you are saying is The 1st amendment allows people to do whatever they want? Oh HELL NO!!!! You don’t want any city Police Department to just let the people run wild with no order….. I’m saying, If you are told to move and you wanna be the one to resist and fight the Police, you gonna be on the bed in booking all weekend…… Stop living in the 50’s. It’s gonna be 2020…….. #Comeonman
      Put the race card back in your pocket and listen to both sides……..

      1. Frank, tell all of those white cops who don’t stay here and who only come here for a pay check, they want a day with no incidents so that they can go back to the suburbs. They have no relationship with the people who pay there salaries and benefits. Frank, forget about the 1960’s and ‘1970’s go back to 2014 and Ferguson and what lesson was learned, nothing. Frank, you do remember what happened in Ferguson?

      2. Frank what side are you talking about? Do you honestly believe a 15 year old boy should be dead because he was joyriding in a stolen car? Boulay’s action was reckless. Look what happen with that Hamden cop who shot another cop because he was firing shots while retreating, haphazardly, or the NY cops who got killed by their own officers, that they called “Friendly Fire” , because they shot first and asked question later. Are those cops who killed the other cops saying they did it because they feared for their lives? And these are the extremes. Lets not over look the petty bullshit cops do because they hold authority or bleeding overtime. That’s the game. (sides) A cop”sends” racist text to another” cop’s wife.” He’s forced out. A cop cadet still in training kills a teenage because of his recklessness and here we are two years later. JS

        1. Robert,
          It’s tragic what happened. Got two words for you, Pull over! You are right, that incident could have been avoided. Pull over , get arrested and be home within an hour.
          We had cops put nooses under their own car TWICE that I remembered and when the Feds investigated and found out the Officer who made the claim put his own dam noose under his own dam car, what happened to him? He got promoted!! Not fired…… What happened when another one wrote a racist letter and disseminated it thru the whole department? Did he get fired? NOOOOO HE GOT PROMOTED TWO RANKS HIGHER!!! place is a joke!! Glad I left when I did …. Robert, you are not speaking from experience….. #MondaymorningQBneednotapply

          1. And you are telling Ron to put the race card away? What does that have to do with two people getting shot and on dying over joyriding in a stolen car? I have had encounter with the police both good and bad, I understand the game, and you may be upset because it seems your team is losing.

            It was a tragedy and was preventable. If it’s a joke inside the department how do you think officers feel about the people they are arresting, shit rolls down hill, it plays forward. My personal take, he, Bouley, didn’t/don’t have what it takes to be a police officer by how he handle that situation. People wash out all the time. Shooting two people and killing one, like on your first day on the street, might suggest he was not level headed. I”m I wrong?

            Here’s a question. In all of the years as a police officer you have chased and apprehend suspects. How many did you shoot and kill? This in not just over use of force in making an arrest. A kid dead because of the JOKE that is the our police department, and it’s not funny either. How many police,”QB’s” can honestly say Bouley and his actions didn’t created this tragic incident that put himself in danger ultimately ending with a dead child? I guess if the place wasn’t a JOKE he, Bouley could have been properly trained to deal with the situation at hand. You are wrong on this one, and they are wrong on Corbin Cooper. Never thought Bouley should be charged, just not a cop in the port. It not his fault the department is JOKE. I agree pull over. Most of those arrested the other day where not Bridgeport residents. Not QBing because I’m not on a side.I call it like I see it. JS

          2. Also I know what you’re talking about race angle, Frank. That’s the game. Its been like that for some time, It’s a shame in some sense. The letters, the texts, The call for Bouley to find a different career has been hi-jacked by those who don’t really care about Jayson. That was why it was mostly were none Bridgeport residents who got arrested. I could tell by their chant. Ironically by the department itself. When most of the cops at this protest/vigil were white. Can chant what they did with black and latino manning the streets with diminishing it. JS

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RjIwvfj8Bnk

          3. Last thing Frank, while we play this race game. sadly it’s not solely about the death those high-jack protesters are seeking. We have tens of thousands of deaths each year by texting and driving and not many people asking to ban phones or giving up theirs. It’s the level of play. Here’s an experience encounter with the police when I was getting arrested for a bar fight. One cop was cool. He even filled out my report because, well, lets say I was completely illiterate at that time, Far from the grammar mistakes here because I’m to lazy to proof read 🙂 He did everything to help me get out the jam I found myself in. Yet their was another cop there being a real bitch and cock-sucker. Who was doing everything she can to provoke me and make it harder. When I asked the “Good cop” why the Bad Cop” was being such a hardass. He told me I look just like her ex-boyfriend (probably another cop too. Who knows, maybe receiving late night texts for another cop. Not texts they didn’t have smart phones then) And those actions are not exclusive to gender, but you get my point. If you don’t thing personal issues don’t affect cop’s behavior on the streets you need to take note on the two recent suicides your JOKE department had. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p2X-qQ-uMW8

  9. And where are City Council people. Where are State reps. Where is State Senator Bradley. Where are Community leaders As people of Bridgeport are being arrested for expressing FREEDOM OF SPEECH.

  10. This case the victim is a teenage Puerto Rican male and it’s young males of color who are the victims. Why is it that we don’t see regularly in the news young white males being shot by the police. It’s not about the police being black or white, it’s not about the white it’s about the blue. These issues were address in the Kerner Commission, “The National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorder 52 years ago when America was burning.

  11. Frank, what other school districts teach children how to deal with the police? Does Fairfield have to do this or is it assumed that the white police of Fairfield will treat white people with respect?

    Frank there are approximately 22,000 children in grades K thru 12 and approximately 350 police officers yet you say teach the 22,000 children rather than teach the 350 police. Really, say that to yourself three times. Better yet Frank most of the problems with the BPD and the community is done by police officers that are from the suburbs who come to this city for a job and have no allegiance to Bridgeport other than that pay check. Why isn’t there widespread problems with cops that lived, that grew up or that currently live in Bridgeport?

    What was the race of K5 when they wrecked havoc on young Black and Latino youth in the project’s and do you think the actions of K5 lead to widespread mistrust of the police? Its very easy to lay the blame at the feet of the community while exonerating the very entities that exacerbate the problems of policing those communities.

    1. Donald,
      First of all, read my comment three times. I said, Both sides need to be more educated. Ya don’t need to teach 22,000 kids to interact with the popo. Just the older kids who are wandering around the streets all times of the night because God knows where there parent or guardian is……
      Not everything needs to be a race war. BPD had a Black Officer write a racist letter and disseminate it Dept wide and instead of firing him, he got promoted.
      Two Different Officers put a noose under their car and made a claim of harassment and it was the officer who made the claim that placed the noose there. He get fired? Oh HELL NO!!! He got Promoted too!!! I’m SURE the Police Department isn’t the only City job this shit happens at. 🔥?? So excuse me if I don’t share your views…….. #Agreetodisagree

  12. I haven’t heard one word from any Puerto Rican leader, NOT ONE, didn’t a young Puerto Rican male just get elected as the State Rep for this same district, well where’s his voice? Oh that’s right he’s getting ready to move back to Bridgeport from Stratford. Hey, Hector Diaz, you are a current Police Commissioner….

  13. No doubt,Joe’s directive is “no one comment to the media,or on social media.This is a hot button issue and I don’t need it affecting my campaign.Just like the residency issue of some of my hires,NO ONE COMMENT ON ANYTHING!,hopefully it will get forgotten about”
    Thank you for your cooperation,
    Joe Ganim.

  14. The behavior of the BPD and Chief Perez is totally unacceptable.
    The woman obviously stood out in the crowd. She was wearing press credentials. She identified herself. And yet they put cuffs on her and took her down to the station in the back of a police car.
    I guess Chief Perez and Mayor Ganim just thought they would teach her a little lesson. Have her show some respect for the police and not film events like this. Way to go AJ and Joe.

  15. That’s right Bob, it’s a unwritten agreement just like Ganim’s friend, President 45. If this reporter was not a reporter they would have charged her and never mind if that person was a young black or Puerto Rican teenager doing and saying the exact same thing they definitely would have been charged.

  16. There should be an emergency meeting of the Police Commission next week. First of all it is the City of Bridgeport Police Commission not Chief AJ Perez’s or Danny Roach Police Commissoon.
    They should sit there and listen to the public complain about the Plice Dept. Then there should be a complete dressing down of Chief Perez and any Supersors at the scene.
    Finally financial consequences for their actions should be considered as well as remedial training on how to deal with situations like this should be ordered for Chief Perez, all Deputies and all member present.
    That’s a start.

    1. Bob, Joe isn’t going to allow any of that,he just wants this to go away, From now till November nothing negative!
      Look for Joe this week to try a deflect by announcing something, maybe another update on the Congress st bridge, or maybe an announcement of a “big” development deal( that won’t happen btw),basically anything to steer away from this fiasco.

  17. There are a lot of really good Bridgeport Police Officers working hard for the residents of this City but there are the few who make it bad for the whole department but the good won’t speak out against the bad.

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