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Friday, September 24, 2010

Video: Man Ousted From Candidates Debate

Posted by Denis C. Theriault on Fri, Sep 24, 2010 at 3:51 PM

The banter behind the lecterns wasn't the only source of drama at last night's candidate debate at a church in North Portland.

A man attempting to film the proceedings in defiance of the event's host, the Emmanuel Temple Church, was thrown out rather forcefully during former Gov. John Kitzhaber's apearance—a disturbance that didn't disrupt the forum but did bring out several Portland police officers.

The man asked to leave, Dan Sandini, has put up a video of what transpired on YouTube, and he also planned to show the video to police.

In the midst of Kitzhaber's remarks, moderator Sharon Gary-Smith had asked anyone who was filming without permission to stop doing so. (KOIN, a sponsor along with the Urban League and African American Alliance, was the only authorized documentarian.)

The video then shows two men sitting next to Sandini, asking him to stop and urging him to leave. Sandini refused, citing his First Amendment rights, and the video then shows a man grabbing Sandini's video camera and possibly striking him in the nose. When I saw him outside, with a co-filmer, Mike Strickland, Sandini had a cut on his nose and was extremely upset.

"I continued to film," he told me. "It's a public event. They invited the public here."

What did police do? Keep reading.

Police, however, weren't able to find the men shown in Sandini's video. An officer told Sandini outside the church that, "they're probably hidden in a room that no one's going to tell us about. They don't even want us here."

Portland police spokesman Sgt. Pete Simpson confirmed that church officials didn't want police there and that North Portland Precinct detectives would continue investigating next week whether misdemeanor assault had been committed.

No matter whether Sandini should have been allowed to film or not, "if the church wanted him to leave, the best course of action would have been to call us first."

Sandini, who told me he wasn't affiliated with any group, did not return a message seeking comment this afternoon, and neither did officials from Emmanuel Temple Church.

Jillian Schoene, Kitzhaber's spokeswoman, said she didn't see the video and wasn't at the event, but called the incident "unfortunate." She also said the campaign didn't play a role in whether Sandini would be allowed to film, explaining that they leave questions of access up to an event's hosts.

But should Sandini have been allowed to film? It's not clear. Kyu Youm, a professor at the University of Oregon, said there are no "clear-cut lines drawn" when it comes to public events in private spaces. He said it's an he hopes will go before the Supreme Court, although personally, he didn't think Sandini should have been asked to stop filming, so long as the filming wasn't disrupting the event.

In any case, even if the church rightly asked Sandini to leave, a violent ouster isn't really a good answer, either.

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