Earlier this week I went to University of Missouri-St. Louis (UMSL) to try and get the Chancellor to comment on the controversial videos that had come from Professor Judy Ancel and Don Giljum’s Labor Studies class. I visited Wood’s Hall and spoke to several high-ranking University officials on camera. Never once was I told I was trespassing, or that I could not film.
Because of that positive experience at Wood’s Hall, I felt comfortable returning to UMSL on Saturday, April 30th, in an attempt to interview Don Giljum, arriving at UMSL at approximately 2:15 pm. The class was scheduled to take a break at 2:30. I found Giljum’s classroom, waited outside quietly and not approaching the door so as not to disrupt the class. I had waited several minutes when Giljum (I recognized him from the videos) and another man exited the classroom, walking by me as they proceeded down a hall. I stayed put as I realized Giljum would have to return to his classroom at some point.
Giljum and the other man parted ways and he started to head back to his classroom.
I asked, “Are You Don Giljum?” as he approached. “Yes,” he responded, coming towards me. A press pass hanging around my neck was cleary visible. He walked up to me and stood in front of my camera with his back to the classroom door. I asked “When was the last time you committed industrial sabotage, or threatened the use of industrial sabotage to gain leverage in a Union negotiation?” “Never, said Giljum, “that was all taken out of context.”
He asked me my name and I told him. He then asked me who I was with. I told him SharpElbows.Net. “Are you the one who did the internet hatchet job on me?” he asked. “I didn’t see any hatchet job, just your words on video” I said. That’s when Giljum appeared to lose it!
He grabbed my camera, breaking it off from the mono-pod upon which it was mounted. The mono-pod fell to the ground behind me and the camera slammed to the floor, tumbling under a desk on the side of the hall. He then tried to punch me. Luckily, I was able to quickly mostly slip Giljum’s punch, stepping back away from him. Once I felt I was at a safe distance, I pulled my back-up video camera out of my pocket and was able to capture a small piece of video.
After he was back in his classroom, I retrieved my camera from under the desk and attempted to view the video to no avail. The camera was rolling when he grabbed at it, so the video file was damaged and not viewable on the camera. I assumed I would have to wait until I got home to try and retrieve it with my computer.
At this point several people left the classroom. I called information on my cell phone to try to get the number for Campus Police. I wasn’t seriously hurt, so I didn’t want to bother with 911 call. While I was on the phone the campus police arrived. Someone had apparently gone and got them. I immediately told the officers that Giljum had assaulted me, damaged my property and I wanted him arrested.
One officer went into the classroom to talk to Giljum and others. I waited outside with another officer. When the 1st officer emerged with Giljum he looked at me and said “You’re getting the same charges.” I said “What do you mean?”
That’s when they placed me under arrest. I asked several times what I was being charged with, receiving no answer. They hand-cuffed my hands behind me. They were tight and I asked the policeman to loosen them; he declined. They then led both Giljum and me down the stairs, his hands cuffed in front of him, for some reason, while mine remained hand-cuffed uncomfortable behind me.
When we reached the street, the first cop told me I was trespassing and needed permission to come on campus and film. I told him that was never mentioned to me during my visit to Wood’s Hall earlier this week. I had roamed the hall freely with my video camera and no one objected at all at that time.
I was transported to the UMSL Police Station where I was “booked” for Trespassing, my fingerprints were taken, as was a mug-shot.
At that point the Sergeant came in to review the situation. I showed him the damage to my camera and told him what had happened. He asked to see the video and I explained the file was damaged and I couldn’t display it to him on the camera. He then said that they were confiscating it because it was evidence of property damage (the camera itself) and also keeping the SD video card because the video was evidence of both my trespassing and Giljum’s assault. I protested but he refused to return it. I then asked if I could simply plug it into my lap top to copy the files. My lap top was on the table in front of me along with all of my other possessions. He refused.
Eventually, I was released but was given no paperwork: no citation for tresspassing; no note, or piece of paper with a court date; no receipt for my confiscated video camera and digital media card – nothing.
They say the camera is locked in evidence, along with my video, until at least Monday.