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Reporting While Black: Wall Street Journal Reporter Dion Rabouin Arrested For Interview Customers Outside A Chase Bank In Phoenix

In a country built and still running on centuries of anti-Black racism, everything Black people do, from jogging to sleeping, is punishable by arrest or execution.

Source: PeopleImages / Getty


For Wall Street Journal reporter Dion Rabouin, his only crime was conducting interviews. ABC15 reports the newspaper demanded an investigation after Phoneix cops detained Rabouin and violated his First Amendment rights for reporting while Black.

Rabouin was visiting family in Phoenix for Thanksgiving on Nov. 23 while working on a story about banking. He was outside a local Chase Bank to do man-on-the-street interviews with customers about savings accounts.

The journalist said two bank employees questioned him and then walked back inside. They didn’t say anything about him being on private property or even ask him to leave. Instead, they endangered his life by calling the cops on him.

“I saw a police car pull up. And the officer came out, walked into the branch, after about five minutes came out, and talked to me,” Rabouin said.

“He asked me what I was doing. I identified myself. I said, ‘I’m Dion Rabouin. I’m a reporter for the Wall Street Journal. I’m working on a story. I told the people in the branch what was going on.’ And he said, ‘Well you can’t do that.’”

Unsurprisingly, Officer Caleb Zimmerman’s report described the misunderstanding as a menacing threat. He wrote that Rabouin refused to identify himself and refused to leave. The Phoenix police department has not yet provided body camera footage to show what really happened.

No real journalist would be unwilling or unprepared to present his press credentials while conducting interviews in public. Rabouin tried to comply but claimed Zimmerman refused to look at his credentials or let him leave the area.

“If this isn’t public property and I don’t have a legal right to be here, if you’re telling me that’s not what this is, fine, I’ll move.’ And he literally, kind of, shifted his body to keep me from moving or going anywhere,” Rabouin said.

“And after we talked a little more, he said, ‘I’m done with this.’ And he started grabbing me. Grabbing at my arms. And I was kind of flustered and drew back. And he was like, ‘This could get bad for you if you don’t comply and don’t do what I say.’ So he grabs my arms and really wrenches them behind my back and proceeds to put me in handcuffs.”

Fortunately, a bystander started to record Rabouin as Zimmerman started to arrest him. At this point, he still never told the reporter which law he actually violated.

“I heard him say he was going to leave. This is ridiculous. He’s a reporter,” Katelyn Parady said during the video from behind the camera.

Despite Rabouin and Parady’s pleas, Zimmerman seemed to care more about abusing his power than resolving the issue. At that moment, which too often is the last time Black people in police custody are seen alive, Rabouin didn’t want to get in the police car.

“I didn’t trust what was going to happen. While the woman was recording, I thought the odds of him not doing anything to me whether physically or anything else are a lot higher. Once he closes that door, he could take off, He could take me somewhere. I could be placed under arrest,” Rabouin said.

Zimmerman eventually releases Rabouin, but what would have happened without witnesses and cameras? Rabouin filed an internal complaint. Of course, Phoenix PD claimed their racist cop did nothing wrong.

The Phoenix Police Department released a statement that the Professional Standard Bureau is conducting “an administrative investigation.” Neither the bank staff nor Zimmerman said what Rabouin actually did wrong. However, Phoenix PD’s statement conveniently claims customers complained and that he was on private property.

“I think it’s important to talk about. This is a department that’s under DOJ investigation for excessive force, under investigation for the way they operate and handle business, and despite that, they continue to operate this way,” the reporter said.

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