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Posted on on November 18th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (

The Journalist says:
Thank you for discussing this. Anybody that has been to New Haven can tell Woolsey Hall is open to whoever wish to get inside. I asked for information to the policeman and followed him when I was told to. I did not say I was a journalist, but did not hide my personal information. I gave him my passport, my address, my phone number. And I told him I was looking for Mr. Joaquim Barbosa and would wait for him outside the building. But I could not leave, because the policeman hold my passport and informed me I would be arrested. Video footage from the place can prove that what I am saying is true. My newspaper asked it to Yale Law School, but have not received a reply. 9/28/13 7:09pm


The University says:

A Brazilian reporter trying to interview Brazil’s Supreme Court President, Joaquim Barbosa, was arrested for trespassing after she allegedly entered a Yale Law School building on Thursday.

O Estado de S Paulo correspondent Claudia Trevisan claims the University was trying to keep quiet Barbosa’s participation in the 2013 Global Constitutionalism Seminar (one of the University’s “signature international programs“), and denied her request to attend, saying it was held in a private building.

Trevisan says she told Yale Law School communications director Janet Conroy that she would go anyway and wait for Barbosa on the sidewalk.

According to Trevisan, she eventually entered Woolsey Hall, a Yale concert hall, where tourists, students, and pedestrians were walking around, to find out if she was in the right place. She asked a Yale police officer if the seminar was in that building, and he apparently recognized her as a journalist and began questioning her. She says the officer also took her passport, detained her for an hour inside a police car, then handed her over to New Haven Police, where she was held in a cell for more than three hours.   Trevisan was reportedly able to report her arrest over the phone to a diplomat at the Brazilian embassy.

A second reporter for Folha de São Paulo, also there to talk to Barbosa, was apparently better received — a policeman escorted him outside of the building and warned him if he tried to enter again he would be arrested.

A spokesperson for Yale gave a statement to the Guardian, saying that Trevisan was dishonest with police.

“She came onto Yale property, entered the law school without permission, and proceeded to enter another building where the attendees of the seminar were meeting. When asked why she was in the building, she stated that she was looking for a friend she was supposed to meet. She was arrested for trespassing. The police followed normal procedures and Ms Trevisan was not mistreated in any way.

No one answered at the Yale Police Department communications line, but according to the Yale PD website, there was an arrest for trespassing outside Woolsey at 6:44 p.m. Trevisan says she arrived at Yale at 3:30 p.m.

Yale says that because the seminar was a private event closed to the public and the media, Trevisan was not permitted on Yale property. This raises an interesting question since Trevisan claims that the building was open to the general public — and that she was singled out as a journalist merely for entering to ask a cop if she was in the right place. Legally, she was probably fine on the sidewalk, while the building would probably be classified as a “limited public forum”. If other tourists and non-members of the seminar were permitted to ask the cop inside for help or directions, arresting Trevisan for engaging in the same behavior while being a journalist could be illegal.

Either way, the argument will probably never be heard — Yale says it does not intend to pursue the trespassing charges.

Wise Guys Say:

Their statement is irrelevant. If those buildings offered general unrestricted access to the general public, they’d have a hard time justifying just escorting her out, let alone arresting her. She doesn’t need special permission simply because she happens to be a reporter. 9/28/13 9:55pm

If you are in a place you aren’t supposed to be don’t   the authorities to ask. Ask someone that looks like a student not the cops.

Since she had previously contacted them to ask for credentials, I think it’s quite likely (especially if they had give so far as to let cops know who she was) that she was in fact not welcome. She probably would have been better off never having asked ahead of time.   9/28/13 8:12pm

Having said that, arresting, handcuffing and jailing a journalist under these circumstances is a ridiculous abuse of power. On the other hand, her stealth reporting skills need some honing.   9/28/13 8:45pm

If you *bought anything* in the State of São Paulo you´ve paid a sales tax, and 10% of this sales taxes goes directly to the State Universities, including the Universidade de São Paulo.

You – and everyone else – had the right to walk there.

Universidade de São Paulo is a public university, where there is no tuition fees and where even the food is subsidized by the taxpayer. 9/28/13 9:07pm

I was just at Yale recently and they didn’t bar me from entering this exact same space. 9/30/13 1:37am

If it helps, Woolsey Hall is part of a complex. The central building, which is what you enter from the street, houses the War Memorial. It has doors on both sides, and is commonly used as a thoroughfare between Bienecke Plaza (part of the Yale campus) and the public streets that lead to other parts of Yale’s campus.

Joaquim Barbosa, the Brazilian Supreme Court Justice, faces problems in his own country, and he did not wanted to talk with reporters. From what
I read in Portuguese and from what understand of US Law and American universities, Yale would not have requested the arrest of the journalists had Barbosa not request it.  (I hope that´s not some kind of exchange program for SC justices or something like that). 9/29/13 1:10am

Considering that The Guardian covered this story – this is saucy indeed and may fit the general view that US justice has dreated for itself overseas.

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