March 19th, 2008
06:10 PM ET

Detained in San Francisco

Hundreds of war protestors took to the streets in San Francisco today and my CNN crew and I became part of the story, albeit briefly. It happened as we were videotaping a group of about 50 protestors lying down on Market Street, one of the busiest and most well-known streets in downtown San Francisco. 


Dan Simon reporting while being held by police during Iraq war anniversary protest in San Francisco

Police, understandably, wanted to clear the street to allow traffic to pass. They shouted an order for the group to disperse and said they’d arrest anyone who didn’t immediately leave.

Apparently, that meant reporters, photographers and producers as well. We were stunned when we realized that we were being lumped in with the protestors; the officers wouldn’t let us leave.

It’s a bit disconcerting to be held against your will and threatened with arrest, especially when doing your job.  We had credentials, cameras, and microphones.  It was clear who we were; about six other journalists were in the same boat.

After about 20 minutes or so, our CNN attorney was on the case, speaking with the police. They let us go with basically a warning.

Police have a tough to job to do, especially controlling a crowd of anti-war activists. Some of the protesters threw water balloons filled with fake blood. Others chained themselves to businesses they called “war profiteers.” Police had every right to arrest those people and those who were blocking a street.

We were doing OUR job by watching them do THEIRS. Bottom line – I think I’ll be a lot more careful where I’m standing next time I’m covering a protest.

– Dan Simon, CNN Correspondent 

Filed under: Dan Simon
soundoff (22 Responses)
  1. Andreas


    March 20, 2008 at 4:45 pm |
  2. Khajak Boghossian

    The resistance you met when covering the war protest in San Fransisco is shockingly similar to the difficulty journalists currently face in China. As the Tibetan protesters publicly denounce Chinese rule, the Chinese government has made it increasingly difficult for journalists to report on the crackdown and violence used against protesters. Since when has the work of journalists and reporters been subject to warnings and investigations? This practice is unconstitutional, and goes against the motives behind the American Constitution.

    March 20, 2008 at 1:41 am |
  3. Dennis

    With some of the things you see on TV that police do you have to think who is safe anymore. They pretty much get away with murder and walk away. You could have had your credentials stapled to your chest and they would have still tried to arrest you, look lets face it to many crooked leader's trusted, is what will cause nonsense like that.

    March 20, 2008 at 12:39 am |
  4. Larry

    Yes, being placed "under arrest" typically is against one's will. Did you break the law or was it a false arrest? We all have a constitutional right to lawful assembly. However, if you join an unlawful assembly (blocking traffic, etc.), you're breaking the law. If so, and you're arrested for supporting a moral position you truly believe in, wear your badge proudly. Don't whine about it.

    March 19, 2008 at 11:35 pm |
  5. Melinda

    I am only sorry I could NOT get out and protest against this $12 million dollar-an-hour war. I was working my $7.00 dollar-an- hour job and I had to pick up a $4.50 gallon of milk and put $35.00 in my car and couldn't make it.
    Please Senator Obama save me!

    March 19, 2008 at 11:34 pm |
  6. carol sullivan

    i'm even surprised it was on the news everything is so covered up just as our young dead and injured boys in the war we have never seen their torn dead bodies or even our injured boys returned at andrews airport as i'm sure our wonderful bush government have declared it off limits and we talk about a free country

    March 19, 2008 at 11:14 pm |
  7. Jerome, East St. Louis Metro


    Glad you got no bruises, but really you didn't get off bad. I have got too close to somebody else's fight before and took some knuckles I didn't ask for, but life goes on for a man.

    Those people whining about how rough it was for you must have already forgot the videos of protestors getting beat to death and shot dead in Burma and Tibet lately.

    Maybe the cops wanted to shoo you away because those half-dozen protestors are playing for an audience, the cameras. When the bright lights go dim and the cameras stop, the protestors will leave, too.

    Whatever. Wear a cup and a hardhat next time.


    March 19, 2008 at 9:19 pm |
  8. DHSmd


    Don't let them cow you like that. You have a right and a DUTY to report the news. Our Constitutional system is under tremendous duress, in part due to the political inclinations of the current administration, but also in large part because so many citizens, journalists, lawmakers, etc. don't want to inconvenience themselves in defense of those liberties that have been earned with blood over generations.

    I sure hope your sentiment was a brief loss of direction, and not a true indication that you, too are headed for the path of compliance over confrontation.

    March 19, 2008 at 8:50 pm |
  9. Carol B., Virginia

    There seemed to be a lot of young people protesting today similar to a while ago, when we were just old enough to hear about Rubin & Hoffman or Baez & Dylan. Sadly, these protests seem to fall on deaf ears with this administration. Glad to hear we won't be hearing your report from jail.
    Take care.

    March 19, 2008 at 8:41 pm |
  10. Tammy

    I have marched in two major protests in Washington, DC, (National Right to Life and National AIDS March) and protested against those crazy anti-gay church nuts from Kansas on my college campus. I have never been arrested. I feel cheated. I'm joking about feeling cheated. Every American should utilize the right to protest at least once in his or her life for something. And stay clear of behaviors that apparently annoy police.
    San Francisco is apparently not the town it was that my dad knew in the mid to late 1960's.

    March 19, 2008 at 8:09 pm |
  11. Arachnae

    Dan, you wouldn't have been detailed if you'd done nothing wrong. At least, that's the law in BushLand.

    March 19, 2008 at 7:52 pm |
  12. Jan from Wood Dale, IL

    My how times have changed! I made it home bruised and bloody after protesting the VietNam war the summer of '68 only to learn the mayor had given a "shoot to kill" order. While the majority of the protestors did NOT participate in violence against the police, there were some. Some say they were "outsiders" brought in for the purpose of violence. I don't know. I can only attest for the actions of myself and my friends.

    Even though the spirit is still willing, the body is weak. So I now use my keyboard to voice my protest. It's been much safer.

    March 19, 2008 at 7:36 pm |
  13. Kelly

    Ha, ha, I shouldn't laugh but I was walking towards my building this morning and saw the CNN action, wondered what was going on. Sorry guys, hope you didn't get a ride in the paddy wagon!

    March 19, 2008 at 7:18 pm |
  14. Cindy

    You're supposed to report the news not be it! Just imagine if you got locked up! I can see the headlines now...CNN Reporter Jailed for Protesting the War. Bet your bosses would LOVE that!

    Stay clear of that mess man!

    Cynthia, Covington, Ga.

    March 19, 2008 at 6:56 pm |
  15. Liz Clark

    Mr. Obama, my challenge to you is to rise to the occasion. You offered us change and we expect you to continue your fight to bring it to us all.

    Otherwise, our alternatives are, “The Clinton’s”, as the media refers to the Clinton campaign, which includes the former President Clinton. The same president who committed perjury and the U.S. House impeached (but that’s OK) and is now embraced to return to assist in running the country, again. Or John McCain, the war monger, who has to be prompted on exactly who the extremist are.

    I have followed the 2008 Campaign since December 31, 2007 and I still don’t see any immaculate closets.

    March 19, 2008 at 6:53 pm |
  16. Delia, Indiana



    March 19, 2008 at 6:49 pm |
  17. Lorie Ann, Buellton, California

    Hi Dan,
    The police were doing their job and you guys were doing yours. I can't fault the police for not cherry picking who or what they thought was getting out of hand. Glad your safe. Wouldn't it be nice if protests could be peaceful and not always ruined by the few who want to take a protest to the next level. Anger, uncontrolled anger, never gets the point of a protest heard.

    Lorie Ann, Buellton, Calif.

    March 19, 2008 at 6:49 pm |
  18. Annie Kate


    You didn't want to get arrested?? Think what a story that would be. Just be assured you are not the first or last reporter to be threatened with arrest or arrested. Years ago during one of the conventions the late John Chancellor was reporting from the convention floor when some delegates or supporters wanted the area he and his crew had staked out for themselves. The police sided with the supporters and actually detained Chancellor, marching him out of the convention hall – the last thing he said as he left was "This is John Chancellor reporting from somewhere in custody". That event (at least for me) was the only thing worth remembering!

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    March 19, 2008 at 6:45 pm |
  19. Stacy

    Welcome to Bush's America. At least you have bigwig CNN attorneys. I'm not saying some of those people didn't deserve to get arrested, but it's funny how no one gets upset about loss of rights until it happens to them. Please don't let this incident change any future reporting.

    March 19, 2008 at 6:43 pm |
  20. Michael, NC

    Dan, I have always wondered how that would be treated, and now I guess I know. I'm sure you have found yourselves in predicaments before, but I bet this one seemed out of your hands and I know I would have felt uncomfortable. But as a viewer, I thank you for the dedication! haha

    March 19, 2008 at 6:38 pm |
  21. Ham

    Sorry to hear about your troubles...
    You might want to use a different picture... there looks to be about 9 protesters there.... 🙂 The 60s are truely gone!

    Glad you're ok though...

    March 19, 2008 at 6:27 pm |
  22. Jake-- a federal government employee

    Correspondent Simon, You got it all wrong. The government, not you, should be more careful. The Press has a special protection under the First Amendment. The day you give that up, you should stand aside– and let reporters who stand up for the rights of all citizens raise the banner of the Free Press.

    March 19, 2008 at 6:19 pm |