My God, the cover-up by the Uvalde School Police is getting worse by the day.
Story number one:
Over the past two weeks, Nora López, executive editor of the Express-News, has led her staff in covering this story. The job has been made more difficult, she said, by the obstacles facing her reporters and photographers. Visiting law enforcement officials and bikers obstructed reporters’ abilities to cover the funerals of victims.
“In addition to the trauma of covering such an event, then to have to deal with all this harassment and attempts to stop us from reporting this story has been really disconcerting,” López said.
On Tuesday, López spoke with Poynter about the work to continue covering the story of the Uvalde shooting victims and their families, and the obstacles journalists are facing in doing so.
This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.
We’ve had reporters on the ground who have been harassed. Last Thursday, there were groups of motorcycle gangs that we believe are former police officers. They were physically getting in front of reporters and videographers, and using their body and their hands to try to obstruct the sightlines. The motorcycle gangs kind of backed off a little bit on Friday, but through the weekend, the police that’s been there helping with the situation continue to do the same thing …
They keep threatening to arrest us, but so far they haven’t. It’s been really hostile. There’s the concern that they are violating our constitutional rights, because we have the right to news gather. I believe that this is bordering on official oppression in stopping us from talking to people and doing my jobs.
The other equally disconcerting thing to me is that they’re also discouraging families from talking to us because they’re hustling them along. Even families who have agreed to talk to the media, they’re basically saying, ‘No, you shouldn’t. You need to move, you need to just move along quickly.’ That’s my biggest concern, that they’re actually now stopping people who want to talk to us, from talking to us.
Story number two:
The Texas Department of Public Safety has asked the state’s Office of the Attorney General to prevent the public release of police body camera footage from the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde in part because, it argues, the footage could be used by other shooters to determine “weaknesses” in police response to crimes.
The office of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton will now review audio and body camera footage recorded by the department to determine if any of it can be released, according to a letter the department sent Motherboard in response to a public records request we filed asking for “photographs and audio as well as video records” recorded by Department of Public Safety officers.
Story number three:
The City of Uvalde and its police department are working with a private law firm to prevent the release of nearly any record related to the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in which 19 children and two teachers died, according to a letter obtained by Motherboard in response to a series of public information requests we made. The public records Uvalde is trying to suppress include body camera footage, photos, 911 calls, emails, text messages, criminal records, and more.
“The City has not voluntarily released any information to a member of the public,” the city’s lawyer, Cynthia Trevino, who works for the private law firm Denton Navarro Rocha Bernal & Zech, wrote in a letter to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. The city wrote the letter asking Paxton for a determination about what information it is required to release to the public, which is standard practice in Texas. Paxton’s office will eventually rule which of the city’s arguments have merit and will determine which, if any, public records it is required to release.
What do we have in total?
The possibility illegal intimidation and suppression of journalists covering the story.
The police doing everything possible to keep their body cams and other recordings from going public.
Just imagine how bad it must be if they are willing to look this bad covering it up.
What is it?
Cops being total cowards? Going back and forth with “you go first,” “no, you go first.”
The Chief running around like an idiot trying to deny responsibility?
Cops laughing and joking about the situation?
How fucking bad is it?
The more they cover it up, the more I want it released.