Campaign cameraman's ejection a sign of the times

Campaign cameraman's ejection a sign of the times »Play Video
Kelly Akers
SEATTLE -- Political news conferences in 2008 attract more than reporters -- they bring out the political operatives.

One of those party types got an unceremonious heave-ho from news conference held by gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi, and that is expected to fuel the fires of online political warfare.

"I walked in and I set up next to the KOMO cameraman, and a woman asked me to leave," Kelly Akers said. "I didn't know why, so I just continued filming."

Akers' camera caught what happened next: he was grabbed and hustled out the door of the Seattle Police Guild office, where Rossi was accepting the organization's endorsement.

"Three of Rossi's guys grabbed on to me, picked me up and dragged me out the back door and put me in a submission hold and twisted my arm around and tried to take away my camera," Akers said.

Off duty police grabbed him, and later on-duty police officers lectured him.

"We find your activities a little suspicious in front of our guild office," a Seattle officer is seen saying on Akers' video.

Akers asks what he did wrong, and the officer replies, "Just contacting you dude, it's suspicious circumstances."

Akers got a warning telling him to stay away from the police guild building for a year.

As for why he was ejected, Rossi spokeswoman Jill Strait said "the only people who we don't allow into our private events are Democratic operatives with recording devices and video cameras.

"And in these days of YouTube they are known to use select footage out of context to make attack ads."

Akers has video and a bruise to show for Thursday's clash, but he says the cops aren't to blame.

"I definitely blame Rossi," he said. "It's his event. It's totally under his control. He could have very easily said 'hey guys this is fine, just let him stay.'"

Asked if Democrats were not welcome at Rossi events, Strait responded, "Anyone who's welcome to work in good faith to improve our state is welcome to come to a Dino Rossi event, but Democratic operatives with video recording devices don't quite meet that standard.."

Right now Governor Gregoire is letting Republican Party videographers in.

Republicans say that's her choice.

This isn't about dirty politics -- it is about new politics. And you can bet by November, both of them will be using the Internet to blast away.

The Seattle Police Guild did not return calls seeking comment for this story.