A journalist was arrested after reporting news about an incident where a cargo train derailed while carrying hazardous chemicals in Ohio, United States.
The incident that occurred last weekend sparked a fire that sent clouds of dangerous gas into the surrounding area. News correspondent Evan Lambert was reportedly arrested for trespassing to cover a news conference about the train crash.
NewsNation reported Lambert was arrested Wednesday at an elementary school gymnasium in East Palestine as Ohio Governor Mike DeWine was giving testimony.
“Lambert was detained for approximately five hours before being released from prison,” NewsNation reported, quoted by the Associated Press, Friday (10/2).
The photographer who was with Lambert at the time, Preston Swigart, said police approached Lambert and asked him to stop talking during the press conference. At that time, Lambert was doing a live report at the same time as DeWine’s press conference.
After the live broadcast, Lambert was forcibly dragged out of the event by the authorities.
“From their point of view, Lambert is not following the rules,” Swigart told NewsNation.
“The gymnasium is an echoing place… So I guess they didn’t like the fact that there was a voice that rivaled the governor speaking, even though he was speaking at the other end of the gymnasium.”
NewsNation’s Washington bureau chief, Mike Viqueira, said Lambert’s arrest was a violation of the First Amendment to the US Constitution. The First Amendment is a law, which regulates freedom of the press.
“Lambert can still be charged with trespassing and trespassing,” said a NewsNation statement.
In response to this arrest, DeWine said that he did not authorize DeWine’s arrest. He also emphasized that journalists have the “right” to cover stories during press conferences.
“If someone is stopped from doing that, or told that they shouldn’t be doing it, that is clearly wrong,” DeWine said after the press conference.
DeWine’s office issued a statement shortly after, saying the governor did not see the arrests taking place because of the cameras swarming in front of him.
Despite this, DeWine said he heard “commotion in the back of the gymnasium”. “[DeWine] has always respected the media’s right to report live before, during and after his press conferences,” said a statement from DeWine’s office.
The Columbiana County Sheriff’s Administration Office reported that the arrest was made by officers from the East Palestine Police Department. However, they did not provide a further explanation when questioned.
DeWine’s press conference itself came after a cargo train derailed near the Ohio-Pennsylvania state border on Saturday (4/2).
The accident led to a fire and a dangerous gas leak. The train at that time was indeed carrying dangerous materials such as vinyl chloride.
Vinyl chloride is considered carcinogenic by the US National Cancer Institute. This substance is used to make white plastic PVC pipe commonly used in plumbing. However, the authorities reported that there were no fatalities or injuries from the incident.
After being released, Lambert claimed that his condition was fine. He also admitted that he did not think he would be arrested while on duty. He also hoped that what happened to him would not happen again.
“I’m fine now. It’s been a very long day,” Lambert said.
“No journalist expects to be arrested while on the job. I think that is a very important thing to make sure it doesn’t happen again in our country.”