A television reporter was arrested for trespassing and disorderly conduct following a live shot at the back of a news conference held by Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) on Wednesday. The event was intended to announce that residents in the village of East Palestine can safely return to their homes after a train carrying toxic chemicals derailed days earlier.
Video shows Evan Lambert of NewsNation being handcuffed on the ground and taken to a police vehicle. It isn’t clear what led to Lambert being detained even though there are video clips of moments before, during and after the arrest.
NewsNation reported that Lambert was asked by police to stop his live report before he was arrested. Footage provided by NewsNation appears to show he did stop broadcasting when asked.
Dan Tierney, a spokesman for DeWine, told The Washington Post that the governor didn’t request that the reporter stop his live broadcast or know that the request was being made by police.
“Governor DeWine did not see the incident take place because his view was blocked by a bank of cameras recording the press conference, however he did hear a disagreement toward the back of the gymnasium,” Tierney wrote in an email. “He was later advised that a reporter who had been giving a live report during the briefing was asked to end the broadcast because the volume of his reporting was perceived to be interfering with the event.”
In remarks after the news conference, DeWine said it’s common for reporters to perform live shots while he’s speaking.
“If I’m doing a press conference and someone wants to report out there and they want to be talking to people back in the channel, whatever, they have every right to do that,” DeWine said. “If someone was stopped from doing that, or told they could not do that, that was wrong. It was nothing that I authorized.”
Lambert and representatives of other news media descended on East Palestine over the weekend after the train derailment Friday night sparked a large fire and eventually led to concerns Sunday night that a “major explosion” or toxic gas release could occur. Ohio authorities ordered anyone within a mile to evacuate or face possible arrest. By Wednesday, authorities ended the evacuation order, deeming the area safe for residents to return.
A Columbiana County Sheriff’s Office official said the arresting agency was the East Palestine Police Department. The police department, which is still dealing with the train derailment, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Lambert remained in the Columbiana County Jail on Wednesday night on charges of criminal trespassing and disorderly conduct, according to a jail official.
NewsNation Washington bureau chief Mike Viqueira said local law enforcement informed him that Lambert would be held until at least 8:30 a.m. Thursday.
“As you see from the videos, he was doing his job — what hundreds of journalists do without incident — reporting to the public on a matter of urgent, critical interest to our audience,” Viqueira said in a statement. “Every effort is being made to assist Evan and secure his release as soon as possible.”
The incident follows similar run-ins with law enforcement that raised press freedom concerns, including a Wall Street Journal reporter who was handcuffed and detained by Phoenix police in January while interviewing customers outside a bank.
Video footage shows a reporter asking Lambert, as he is put in the back of a police vehicle, what he wants to say to people watching. He responds: “It’s tough to do your job in America in 2023, but we’ll keep doing it.”