Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Monday that journalists covering the NATO summit in Chicago next month would not have to worry about being handcuffed for doing their jobs.
"Whether I like what you write or whether I like what you report, you have an essential role in telling the truth. To have a democracy when you have freedom, truth has to exist," the mayor said, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. "I'm not into -- and I don’t believe in -- handcuffing a reporter, OK?"
The mayor's comments came about a week after two Chicago journalists -- NBC Chicago photographer Donte Williams and WGN reporter Dan Ponce -- were detained and then handcuffed by police while attempting to coverthe shooting death of 6-year-old Aliyah Shell. Neither journalist was ultimately arrested.
In an exchange caught on video, one officer told the reporters, "Your First Amendment rights can be terminated if you're creating a scene or whatever."
The mayor did not directly endorse or condemn the journalists' detainment.
With the NATO summit quickly approaching, the Illinois eavesdropping law -- which forbids audio recordings unless all involved parties, specifically police officers, agree to it -- has come under increased scrutiny for fear that either journalists or protesters may unknowingly attempt to record a clash with police.
Last week, an amendment to the law that would have allowed on-duty police officers to be recorded in public spaces was voted down by a vote of 59-45 by the Illinois House. The American Civil Liberties Union has repeatedly challenged the law and Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy previously called the it a "foreign concept."
Most states allow anyone taking part in a conversation to audio record it, a policy known as one-party consent, but Illinois has a strange variation on a two-party consent law that only applies to audio recordings. Illinoisans can legally record an event without sound.
Lucy Dalglish, executive director for Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, previously commented to the Associated Press that the "bone-headedness" of the current law could be an embarrassment to the state during the upcoming international summit.
"You might be OK if you are CNN, but not if you're a blogger or look like any citizen on the street, Dalglish said.
Last fall, Ralph Braseth, a Loyola University Chicago journalism professor, was detained by a Chicago police officer and asked to erase a video clip he'd recorded of the arrest of a teen on his smartphone.
WATCH a report on the recent detainment of Chicago journalists:
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