by The Independent Weekly Staff
We’re having a hard time buying Deputy Marshal Nathan Broussard’s version of events that led to the arrest of one of our own, Lanie Cook, a 22-year-old UL Lafayette student who has just signed on as an intern at the paper. An aspiring journalist/photojournalist, Cook was exercising her First Amendment rights by taking pictures of Broussard in the line of duty at Parc International the Thursday night of Festival International. Broussard, according to an “eyewitness” from KLFY-TV10, came toward Cook and a drunken young man after the young man yelled at the officer to let alone a suspect who had passed out a few yards away. “I’m just holding down the shutter as he’s coming,” recalls Cook, who was covering the festival for a class and the student newspaper. “I just never stopped taking pictures, and this cop just starts freaking out.” Cook repeatedly told Broussard she had a right to take pictures, to which a female deputy replied (in Cook’s words), “You cannot take pictures of what we do.” That officer couldn’t be more wrong. The media’s function is to act as a guardian of the public interest and as a watchdog on the activities of government. Broussard was out of line in arresting Cook and charging her with disturbing the peace by intoxication (though he did not conduct a breath test), resisting arrest (who wouldn’t under these circumstances?) and interfering with the duties of an officer (Hmmm). We won’t even go into what Broussard wrote in the arrest affidavit, because, frankly, it doesn’t jibe with the evidence — that being the images on Cook’s camera.