State police ordered to stop photographing protesters at Christie town halls
March 19th, 2014
06:20 PM ET
9 years ago

State police ordered to stop photographing protesters at Christie town halls

(CNN) –New Jersey's acting attorney general and the state police superintendent banned state police on Wednesday from taking photos of hecklers and protesters at Gov. Chris Christie's now-weekly town halls.

The announcement came after a man taking photos of demonstrators at Tuesday's town hall reportedly identified himself as a member of the state police.

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Democratic Assemblywomen Loretta Weinberg, who co-chairs the legislative committee investigating the George Washington Bridge controversy, issued a scathing statement Tuesday, calling the picture-taking a "Nixonian tactic" and blaming Christie "for allowing this to happen."

On Wednesday, Acting Attorney General John Hoffman, who was appointed by Christie, ordered state police to stop the practice.

"The State Police is responsible for the safety and security of the governor and the public at town hall meetings," he said in a statement, which was first reported by the New Jersey Star-Ledger.

"In doing so, the State Police are careful to guarantee that First Amendment rights are respected and the public – whether expressing positive or negative sentiments toward the governor and his policies – have ample opportunity to make their positions known. That said, the colonel and I have instructed the State Police to no longer photograph at these events for security or any other purposes."

Colin Reed, a spokesman for Christie, said "such security matters are determined by the State Police" and "the governor had no knowledge this was happening."

Further questions were directed to the attorney general's office.

More than a dozen hecklers disrupted Christie's town hall in South River, New Jersey, on Tuesday.

Christie stayed silent as the scene unfolded. After the protesters left, he weighed in: "Well congratulations you have now seen the latest gift given to you by the public sector unions in the state of New Jersey."

They continued their protests outside the venue after being escorted out. Most were affiliated with the labor organizations, the Communication Workers of America and New Jersey Working Families.

Christie had anticipated the hecklers and urged the audience to ignore them at the top of his remarks Tuesday. Security at the venue was noticeably tighter than at previous town halls, of which Christie has now held 114 since becoming governor in 2009.

The demonstrators first started interrupting the town halls last week, when they took turns shouting at the governor throughout the event.

Filed under: Chris Christie • New Jersey
soundoff (20 Responses)
  1. Pander Bear

    How is he supposed to compile a complete enemies list if he's not allowed to document who's crossed him?

    March 19, 2014 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  2. rs

    Hmmmm. Say it ain't so, a Republican Governor's Administration spying on citizens.... call Rand Paul!

    March 19, 2014 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  3. gary

    "The State Police is responsible for the safety and security of the governor and the public at town hall meetings,"
    It should be "The State Police is responsible for the safety and security of the citizens from the governor."

    March 19, 2014 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  4. sammy750

    Christie blames everything on the unions as most Republican Governors do. Christie can make all kinds of excuses for his lack of being a Governor in NJ. He is just one of the many Governor who has fallen to being a fraud. Others have went to jail. Be hot to see Christie in a black and white stripe jail suit.

    March 19, 2014 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  5. AlGorelies

    Why is it that the word terrorism, terrorist did not exist before 1948?
    Why did Homeland Security not exist before Sept. 11, 2001?
    LIke any old dog, it is time to shake off the fleas once and for all.

    March 19, 2014 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  6. ThinkAgain - Don't like Congress? Get rid of the repub/tea bag majority.

    Reminds me of GW during the '04 campaign when they required pre-approved people to have tickets at their "rallies."

    Nothing like a freedom lover loving to take away someone else's freedom!

    March 19, 2014 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  7. brianN.

    Protesters, noise makers, molatov cocktail throwers, tire burners, all get free pass to do whatever theywant, wherever they want. Law enforcement is told to just "restrain" themselves, do nothing and take the abuse. Now, surveillance isn't even allowed at public forums? I don't see why not. These people chose to protest in a government building so they are in pubic and are not protected from being photographed. What makes a protester have rights to NOT be photographed in a public building? Weird society we live in. Indeed.

    March 19, 2014 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  8. S. B. Stein

    Christie can't handle the fact that people don't like him or his policies. He should understand that he isn't the best thing that happened to NJ. It almost sounds as if he has a persecution complex. The reason that he was heckled is because he isn't listening. The fact that he thinks it is the public unions is because he'd rather have no rules so that people he likes can rule the departments and have their way.

    March 19, 2014 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  9. J Anthony

    Hey Christie, if you can't ttake the heat stay out of kitchen

    March 19, 2014 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  10. MikeinMT

    Whether Christie knew or did not know is of no consequence. Taking pictures of people legally protesting and heckling the Governor simply shouldn't be allowed. The good news though is that even without the pictures, the NJ State Patrol can rely on the phone records of the protesters the NSA is gathering on all American with the support of the Obama administration. That can't be a violation of our civil rights, can it.

    March 19, 2014 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
  11. Remzi R Barolli

    impeach the rat, he does not deserve any better treatment, he is a bully, he ordered the state police to take pictures of the good citizens of New Jersey. Who knows what that mad man would do. He would have his Sicilian/Irish mafia to take care of those who do not agree with that greedy bully.

    March 19, 2014 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  12. BErnard

    CHris trying to keep the base pump up for what thing have not change.

    March 19, 2014 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  13. Michael

    I do believe our tubby governor this time. He didn't even have to tell the state pigs to run surveilance on democrats and dissidents. It came natural to the "Colonel." They helped him close the bridge too. They love to be our own little CIA.


    March 19, 2014 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |

    Christie you are a boo hoo hoo bully wimp. Um, yeah, and still a fattie. Go away.

    March 19, 2014 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |

    Ok, I'm being mean and a bully for calling him a fattie. Well, I don't need a Taft 2.0 as a POTUS AND one who does has good healthcare and exercises not to use it, I assume. Look at the guy. . . Ick. Not the best role model. At the minimum, Obama quit smoking.

    March 19, 2014 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |

    *have* I meant on second sentence. . .

    March 19, 2014 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  17. Thomas

    "Nixonian tactic"

    He looks a lot less health then Nixon

    March 20, 2014 12:00 am at 12:00 am |
  18. The Republican Party Is Dead To Me

    Yes. These intimidation tactics are a bit old fashioned. Since you've collected all the pictures, it would be easy to intimidate each individual separately. Bunch of brown shirted jack booted thugs, pretending it's the 1930's all over again. Anything to hold on to power.

    March 20, 2014 05:03 am at 5:03 am |
  19. salty dog

    What happened to the slow pitch meetings, the ones you had carefully crafted, thinking after a few meetings with no bridge questions, the dumb citizens will be conned into thinking there must be nothing to this, spare me the drama, save it for the judge.

    March 20, 2014 07:38 am at 7:38 am |
  20. salty dog

    Typical bully tactics, this guy is toxic, no way he could handle the white house, good call mittens.

    March 20, 2014 08:05 am at 8:05 am |