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Police beat, handcuff journalist Nathaniel McClain for photographing police

(CEMESP/IFEX) - On 6 March 2009, journalist Nathaniel McClain of the "Renaissance" newspaper in Monrovia was handcuffed and beaten by some officers of the Liberian National Police.

McClain was assaulted by the officers when he tried to photograph a group of police officers who were pushing Customs Commissioner Alponso Gaye in their attempt to seize his government vehicle which was intended to be used by guests attending the International Women's Colloquium.

A local daily quoted Police Commander Solomon as saying that he ordered his men to confiscate the journalist's camera, because he had failed to identify himself before photographing the officers.

Commander Doe further claimed that the police officers were there on orders from President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf to seize government vehicles being used for guests at the colloquium. McClain told CEMESP he sustained bruises on his hands as a result of the altercation. "I was only doing my duty as a journalist by taking photos of their action against the commissioner. I was surprised when the policemen rushed me and then assaulted and handcuffed me. You see the marks on my hands," he said.

McClain was released following the intervention of Deputy Police Commissioner James Hollowanger who rushed on the scene after he received several telephone calls from on-lookers. Hallowanger apologized to McClain and promised that the Liberian National Police would? (vs. will take drastic actions against those involved.

The managing editor of the "Renaissance" newspaper, Moses Sonkarly, has described the flogging of McClain by the policemen as barbaric and called for an immediate investigation.

This is the second time in less than a year that a "Renaissance" reporter has been beaten by officers of the Liberian National Police. In March 2008, Reporter Edwin Clarke was flogged by officers of the Bomi County Police Detachment in Tubmanburg city.

For further information on the Clarke case, see: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/91329

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