Joe Miller to Media: Don’t Ask Me Any Questions- I’ll Have You Arrested!

A security guard who pushed Alaska Dispatch editor Tony Hopfinger into a wall and handcuffed him after a town hall meeting for Senate candidate Joe Miller on Sunday afternoon in Anchorage said he did so because Hopfinger refused to leave a private event.

William Fulton from Dropzone Security Services said Hopfinger should have known from the “Joe Miller for Senate” signs outside Central Junior High School that the town hall meeting — to which Miller invited citizens on the internet sites Facebook and Twitter — was a private event.

“They leased it for a private event,” said Fulton. “It wasn’t a public place.” That, he said, gave him the legal authority to tell Hopfinger to leave, then grab him and handcuff him when he didn’t do as told.

Hopfinger said he had no idea who Fulton was. The security guard was in a black suit, not a uniform, Hopfinger said, and refused to identify himself.

“He throws me up against the wall,” Hopfinger said. “He handcuffs me,” and even then Fulton refused to identify himself.

Fulton, who said he has done security for Miller before, has a different version of events. Problems started, he said, because Hopfinger was “getting really pushy with Joe. Joe was trying to get away from him.”

Hopfinger agrees with that. He said he was trying to get Miller to answer questions about whether he’d been in danger of being fired from his job as an attorney for the Fairbanks North Star Borough when he quit in 2009. Hopfinger said he kept after the candidate because Miller never told him to get lost, but instead just kept moving away.

A veteran reporter, Hopfinger said he has been in media scrums before, and this seemed like another of those. There was a mob of people. Some were in dark suits like Fulton and others in flannel, he said. Some, Hopfinger said, were telling him to quit pestering Joe with questions, but as a reporter, he had questions he thought needed to be asked.

Fulton said he was watching Hopfinger because the man had “something in his hand.”

“It could have been a camera,” the guard said. “It could have been a recording device. It could have been an iPhone.” When asked, though, Fulton conceded the something in Hopfinger’s hand obviously wasn’t a weapon.
Hopfinger said he had in his hand a small video camera, called a “Flip.” He was trying, he said, to get an on-camera interview with Miller. In the process of following the candidate, Hopfinger added, he was getting pushed into by people who were crowding the hallway.

Despite Fulton telling Alaska Dispatch and various other media outlets that he knew he was dealing with a reporter, the Joe Miller campaign promptly put out a press release saying, “It is also important to note that the security personnel did not know that the individual they detained was a blogger who reporting on the campaign [sic].”

The press release was headlined “Liberal Blogger Loses it at Town Hall Meeting,” although Miller knows well that Dispatch, which is involved in a lawsuit to obtain Miller’s Fairbanks personnel records, is not a “blog” but an established online news magazine.

Video footage from Central Middle School cameras may have captured the incident, and Alaska Dispatch will be asking the Anchorage School District to release it.

It is not known at this time whether Hopfinger will be filing charges against the men who falsely arrested and detained him. 

The Dispatch, the Fairbanks Daily News Miner and the Anchorage Daily News are all in court at the moment trying to gain access to his Fairbanks personnel records to determine how his previous job ended.

[Update, 10/18, 7:08 p.m. AKDT]: Anchorage Police freed Alaska Dispatcher editor Tony Hopfinger from Senate candidate Joe Mlller’s body guards at Central Middle School early Sunday evening. Sergeant Mark Rein of the Anchorage Police Department said Hopfinger is not in custody or under arrest.

 By Craig Medred

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Syrin
    Oct 19, 2010 @ 01:09:05

    What was it, public or private event?
    Joe’s FB page lists the “Town Hall Meeting with Joe Miller” as a Public Event.…7&index=1
    “Town Hall Meeting with Joe Miller
    Sunday, October 17th at 3pm
    Central Middle School, 1405 E St, Anchorage, AK 99501
    Your friends, colleges (sic), family, acquaintances, neighbors, need to be informed and hear Joe Miller speak for himself. Don’t let the media skew your views. Make the decision for yourself. Help send Joe to DC! Joe is standing in the gap, restoring liberty to our state and nation. Help us get his message out directly to the people by coming to the event.”


  2. Syrin
    Oct 19, 2010 @ 01:10:27

    A view from an Alaskan…..
    This event has completely re-schooled me in matters of public domain and undone 35 years of understanding and expectations.
    Here’s a summary of my new education:
    1. Politicians can and will say whatever they want. About anything. The days of accountability are over. The era of Nixon and Watergate, busting people for lies, is done.
    2. The days of open-forum public political events, town hall meetings, meet-the-candidate, is over.
    3. The use of public property for public events, like meetings at school, is over. Who knew? Apparently the school district just leases out the building for private events and squadrons of young men who hate the government and work at strip joints “take over the school.” Who knew?
    4. Apparently private gangs of quasi-military individuals now have enforcement authority over citizens, clearly with police approval and cooperation. Who knew? I’ve had growing concerns about abuse of authority and the bending of civil rights by corrections staff and mall cops; but this takes it up a notch.
    5. Apparently men can put their hands on me, rough me up, push me, and even handcuff me. At will. As long as they have some kind of junior Sam Spade plastic badge in pocket. Really? Good to know.

    So here’s a couple of observations:
    It’s a private security staff for commercial hire. They have some kind of training, protocols, policies, etc. They knew how they would respond to various scenarios, exactly what action they would take and how, before anything happened. Because they were hired guns and had some kind of briefing beforehand. They had some kind of instruction from Joe Miller. I think it’s likely that they were told to flat-out stop anyone asking additional questions.

    The police officer that sauntered down the hall already knew that the function was “private” and that building had been leased. How’d he know that? What authority did he check with before responding to the scene of the crime, at 7 pm on a Sunday night? Administrative offices would have been closed. Anchorage School District, event permit filed with the municipality. Closed.
    Why wasn’t the formal police officer (alone, just one) more interested in defusing the situation? Why was he not willing to courteously address what was happening around him? Was he not trained in crowd control, how to defuse contentious situations? Did he not understand or take seriously that he was the sole real authority that they were ALL looking to for resolvement? Did he not notice the escalation of the situation? Did he not get it that he was at a Teabagger function and that some part of the audience and probably William Fulton were likely to be carrying sidearms?

    As far as I’m concerned, no more rhetoric about truth and honesty; no more fervent statements about taking back our country.
    Everybody just shut up. Rip the bumper stickers off the car. Go about your business. Do whatever you want. Cheat on your taxes. Lie about your income to get a $1.00 cell phone. Phony up your car insurance damage claim. Everybody’s a liar. That’s okay if that’s what our society is now. Just stop talking about virtue and integrty. Don’t want to hear it!


  3. WakeUpAmerica
    Oct 19, 2010 @ 04:00:36

    Joe-the-Nazi reminds me of another Palin protege’, W.A.R. She sure can pick ’em. When one looks at the personalities of the people Palin endorses, one has to wonder what the psychological implications are for her. I’m thinking that psychiatrists will find analyzing Sarah Palin to be a fascinating journey into psychosis hell for years to come.

    Syrin, were you at this event?


    • Syrin
      Oct 19, 2010 @ 06:51:26

      Yes, the world of psychiatry will be buzzing about the psychopaths and narcissists that are found in my state for decades! No, I’m not in Alaska or America for that matter. I’m in London, however, not far enough from the crazy of Alaska politics! I was text, Facebooked and called to be told that Tony Hopfinger of Alaska Dispatch was arrested by some security guard, one of Joe’s hired goons. I heard it’s national news and that Joe got a truth free ride on Fox…


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