By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

A Muzzle for the officers who removed a teenage journalist from a GOP event

Quinn Mitchell, right, with Chris Christie and his wife, Mary Pat Christie. Photo (cc) 2023 by NHpolitico.

It’s hardly a surprise that Republican officials in New Hampshire would throw a 15-year-old out of a political event for doing nothing other than shooting video. But there is no excuse for police officers going along with their outrageous demand.

According to Samantha J. Gross of The Boston Globe, Quinn Mitchell, an aspiring journalist who’s become something of a celebrity for asking tough questions of presidential candidates, was escorted out of a political event at the behest of party officials in Nashua, New Hampshire, on Friday — apparently because someone didn’t like his recording videos of a longshot presidential candidate.

🗽The New England Muzzle Awards🗽

“They told me I was being a disruption,” Mitchell was quoted as saying. “I was taking a video like anybody else.” He added that five officers were involved in removing him from the Sheraton Nashua hotel.

Quinn said that a party official told him he was being kicked out because he had a reputation for disrupting events. No doubt that official was referring to Mitchell’s journalism, which can indeed be disruptive because he does it the right way. Earlier this summer Quinn asked Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, “Do you believe that Trump violated the peaceful transfer of power, a key principle of American democracy that we must uphold?” He also asked former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a born-again Never Trumper, whether Hillary Clinton would have been a better choice than Donald Trump in 2016.

Although Mitchell was reportedly back in the hall Friday an hour after his removal, the incident led to a story in The New York Times. It also leads to an important question: Should police officers who work for the public go along with a demand to remove a teenager — or anyone — from an event simply because he was exercising his First Amendment rights? The answer, quite obviously, is no, and it really doesn’t matter whether the officers were on the taxpayers’ dime or if they were being paid as part of a private detail. (The Times reported that it tried and failed to get a comment from the Nashua police department.)

For that, police officers who removed Mitchell from the hotel have earned a New England Muzzle Award.

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  1. Lex

    The unfortunate history of law “enforcement” in this country is that way too often, they have been ordered to serve the personal interests of the right-wing elite rather than the public interest — and have been all too happy to do so. Please keep in mind when I say this that I was a Republican for 40 years.

  2. Kevin Bowe

    Yes, one critical question is why/how can private campaigns use the power of the state to intimidate and bar people from camping events. (Rod Webber won a lawsuit against the Trump campaign when he was arrested by police in 2015) But there is an equally big question–why aren’t the media raising holy hell at these events when something like this goes down? Reporters are increasingly being barred from events and the message is clear: Ask tough questions, you loss access to the candidate and the campaign. This is nothing but a slippery slope downward in terms of press access and their ability to report accordingly. No wonder press gaggles are a joke on the campaign trail. Reporters are afraid of losing access.

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