Our reporters saw it all: a well-known photographer and journalist for the Greene County Herald was arrested at a recent John Crawford protest in Beavercreek, Ohio.
His name is Virgil Vaduva, and he was not alone in being threatened with arrest. Reporters and photographers for Counter Current News, Alternative Media Syndicate and even local 2 news were directly threatened with arrest after identifying themselves as members of the media.
Now, Virgil needs your help. The Greene County Herald has started a fundraiser, for all who believe in protecting the freedom of the press.
Virgil explains, “about 20 years ago I came to the US from a communist country, searching for liberty and freedom. Unfortunately, it does not appear that I found it, as tyranny driven by police militarization has been expanding and growing every since, here in the United States.”
It may sound like Virgil is exaggerating, but from what we witnessed members of the media were being deliberately targeted for arrest at the Christmas Eve “die in” at the Fairfield Commons Mall, across the street from the Walmart where John Crawford was killed.
“On December 24, 2014, as I always do before such events, I put on my press badge and went to cover a protest organized by the Ohio Student Association,” Virgil explains. “During this event, Beavercreek Police have threatened other media representatives covering the protest with arrest.
“After being told to leave and while in the process of leaving, the police started grabbing certain individuals from the crowd, handcuffing them. I was one of them. More than a dozen people were arrested as they were leaving the event. It is unknown why the police did this as this was a peaceful event and I was there as a journalist. I was charged with trespassing and obstruction of official business.”
If Virgil was trespassing, it is unclear how. The Fairfield Commons Mall Security had told us specifically that we were welcome to remain on the premises so long as we intended to shop after the protest cleared, and as long as we were not part of the die-in. Virgil, was clearly in no way a participant in that die-in, but he was targeted nevertheless. This, however, hardly surprised Virgil, who says that the Beavercreek Police Department has a history of criminal behavior.
Virgil notes, that “as many already know, the Beavercreek Police Department has a history of legal abuse, lying and even killing of innocent people. On August 5, 2014, one of their officers shot and killed an unarmed man named John Crawford in the local Walmart. Since then, many protests have taken place in opposition to this killing. Nobody has been charged so far in his killing and the police department have built a wall of silence for the media, refusing to answer any questions. I have written about this at length and have continued to cover all the events related to the Crawford shooting.”
It was clear that this was not merely an accident, or confusion on the part of the arresting officers. Virgil has a long history of calling the Beavercreek Police Department out when they enforce fictitious laws. Even during his arrest, he exposed a Beavercreek school resource officer David Majercak. After Majercak arrested protester Marshawn McCarrel Virgil said (in cuffs): “You guys shot someone in Walmart for doing nothing” – noting the repressive and illegal current running through the entire department which had now targeted him for photographing. After being called out by Virgil, Majercak responded with a huge smirk on his face and sarcastically said: “I’m sooooory, I’m soooory.”
This is the type of unprofessional behavior which the media and protesters alike were forced to deal with. One member of the media even suffered personal insults directed towards their family, who had come there to shop, not part of the protest.
Virgil and the Greene County Herald are reaching out and asking for help with legal expenses. Please click on his fundraiser (here), donate whatever you can (even $1 or $5 is helpful), and then SPREAD THE WORD by sharing this with everyone you know who believes that the freedom of the press cannot be infringed by officers who seem to have forgotten that they have sworn to uphold the Constitution.
If you have questions or comments, please feel free to e-mail Virgil at firstname.lastname@example.org as e-mails will be forwarded to him if you mark them “ATTN: Virgil Vaduva”.
(Article by Moreh B.D.K.)