WIDR reporter ejected from GOP convention
Friday, September 3, 2004
By Craig McCool
cmccool@kalamazoogazette.com 388-8575

A reporter for Western Michigan University's student-run radio station was kicked out of the Republican National Convention on Tuesday after he was found with a piece of paper reading: "I'm gonna kill the president."

Dan Jones, a freelance correspondent for WIDR-FM 89.1, was planning on attending the off-Broadway play of the same title and had written the phrase on his personal schedule, he said. Security officers who stopped him at the convention found it, leading to a probing three-hour session with members of the Secret Service.

Jones, 23, said he was stopped in the first place because of "a case of mistaken identity."

"They had a set of four pictures that they held up. I happened to look like this person," he said. "I was in the wrong place at the wrong time."

The full title of the play is: "I'm Gonna Kill the President -- A Federal Offense." The farce about terrorism in America is playing at a theater in Manhattan's Lower East Side.

"They looked through my bags, my belongings. It (the title of the play) was handwritten on my personal schedule," Jones said. "That is a humorous turn of events for me."

Jones, a 1999 graduate of Loy Norrix High School, has been covering the convention at Madison Square Garden since Sunday, filing two stories each day. He also covered the Democratic National Convention in Boston for WIDR, where his brother is the station's news director.

"Twelve men with the New York Police Department put me inside a small office. I was questioned by the Secret Service for three hours," Jones said in a phone interview Thursday. "They asked about my personal background, my family, where I've lived, where I went to school, careers and then a more serious series of personal questions. Have I ever been to a mosque?

"They actually asked me how I felt about Sept. 11, and how I felt about the Madrid bombings."

Jones was not arrested, though his media credentials were taken and he was barred from re-entering the convention. He since has been covering protests and events outside the convention, he said.

"One reason I'm not too disappointed about being barred is that much more interesting stuff happens outside," he said. "Tonight, I'm watching the speeches with a bunch of young Republicans."

If you have stories or photographs to share with other WIDR Alumni, please send them to widralumni@gmail.com