On the shoving and blocking of news reporters commentary

The video that shows Rob Berry shoving freelance photographer Karen Laslo out of position at the April 20 press conference downtown should tell you everything you need to know about the right-wing attorney who seems to steer the “Chico First” Facebook page.

Posted on the Stand Up for Chico Facebook page, viewers see Berry – who has fought a tiny home village proposal and threatened citizen’s arrests – position himself in front of Laslo, who was taking pictures for ChicoSol. He then uses his backside for the shove and to perhaps block her view.

Yet, on his Chico First page, Berry plays the victim, claiming this 110-pound woman interfered with his work as she darted to shoot photos from different angles, and his page followers sympathize. The problem is that regardless of whether Laslo has annoyed him by taking his picture or inadvertently passing in front of him in a city plaza, there’s absolutely no way to justify the use of physical force. Berry is an outspoken citizen on many issues, including those related to homelessness, and Laslo often takes photos for publication at public events.

Berry is also seen in videos batting at an “Anyone can be Homeless” sign carried by activist Chris Nelson when she passed in front of him at an event that was marred by an alarming escalation of disruptive tactics.

On that Tuesday at the sculpture Our Hands where the press conference was held, I was also forcefully pushed from my position by a heckler while filming councilors Alex Brown and Scott Huber. The man, who hasn’t been identified, then seemed to deliberately block my view.

These are efforts at intimidation at a press conference organized by two sitting members of the Chico City Council who deserved to be heard and covered by reporters — regardless of whether Rob Berry’s cult of followers, or for that matter random hecklers, disagree with their views. — Leslie Layton