Reporter covering protest in Dover area detained
A Dover Post reporter was detained by Delaware State Police Tuesday evening while covering a protest in the Camden area.
A Facebook Live video shows protesters laying face-down on the grass along Rt. 13 with their hands zip-tied behind their backs and posters strewn beside them. Andre Lamar, who is black, can be heard identifying himself as a reporter as he is apparently tackled to the ground.
“I’m with the press, sir," he shouted. "I’m with the press!”
Lamar could also be heard saying that he couldn't breathe.
Lamar broadcast a second live video around 9:40 p.m. saying he’d been detained but was not being charged. He said protesters were peaceful when they were arrested.
"People were advocating for racial equality, and they were tackled like they were animals," said Lamar after being released.
Delaware State police say Lamar was one of 22 people taken into custody during the protest on Route 13 in Camden.
State police say the group was told their protest was not lawful because it was obstructing traffic and asked them to move to the shoulder. Police say they became disorderly after not allowing a marked Dover Police car through and the officer left his vehicle.
State police says Lamar was taken into custody by Dover Police officer Department and taken to Delaware State Police Troop 3 with the other protesters detained. They say as a result of their investigation he was released with no charges filed.
Officials with the state Department of Justice directed Delaware State Police to release Lamar, according to DOJ spokesperson Mat Marshall.
"We told them to release him and they did," he wrote in a text message Tuesday night.
State Attorney General Kathy Jennings appeared to speak out against the detention of protesters on Twitter.
"I’ve been clear with law enforcement that I do not believe civil disobedience should be treated criminally and that peaceful protestors should not be harmed," she wrote after the incident. "People have a right to free speech and to peaceable assembly in this country and our goal—regardless of their message or their ideology—is to ensure that they can exercise that right safely. Period."
Gov. John Carney also weighed in.
"Reporters have a fundamental right to cover the demonstrations we’re seeing in Delaware and across our country,” Carney tweeted. “They should not be arrested for doing their jobs. That’s not acceptable."
Lamar said officers disregarded his statement that he couldn't breathe while they handcuffed him. "Guys, we’re talking about racial injustice," he said. "I’m a black man."
"For anyone who doesn’t believe that racial injustice is real, please wake up," he added.
The Dover Post posted a statement to Facebook just after 9 p.m. saying Delaware State Police confirmed they had about 20 protesters in custody being processed.
This story has been updated.