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School Demolition Brings The Media Back To Town

News media arrived in Newtown on Friday, October 25, seeking to cover the demolition of Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dickinson Drive.

At least three satellite video trucks had arrived in town by early afternoon, staffed with crews assigned to the school demolition story.

However, that assignment was not a simple one because town officials have placed the 12 Dickinson Drive school site strictly off limits for news coverage.

To get around that restriction, news organizations sent at least three helicopters to Newtown on Friday morning to photograph the demolition site from above. The aircraft must fly at least 500 feet above the terrain to meet Federal Aviation Administration rules.

Photos taken from the aircraft were posted on the Internet. The aerial views show a partially demolished building that is in the processes of being taken apart and carted away.

The sections of town streets near the school site have been posted with “No Parking” signs to keep the curious away from the area.

Police said they told at least three reporters on Friday morning not to enter the school site.

Police said that on their initial contact with someone trying to enter the school site they would give that person a verbal warning against trespassing.

If trespassing occurs, an infraction for simple trespassing may be issued. Beyond that, misdemeanor summonses for the various degrees of criminal trespassing may be issued.

Newtown Police Sergeant David Kullgren asked that the public respect that the town wants to accomplish the demolition of the school out of the public’s sight.

Expanses of black fabric have been affixed to sections of chain link fencing at the school site where it borders Crestwood Drive to block the view of the demolition.

In the early afternoon, a news crew was positioned on the north side of Riverside Road at its intersection with Dickinson Drive with a camera trained on the security gate on Dickinson Drive through which construction vehicles would pass during the demolition project.

Town voters have approved accepting a $50-million state grant to construct a new school at the site of the school now under demolition.

A Reminder Of ‘Great Hurt’

First Selectman Pat Llodra issued a statement on October 30 on the news media’s coverage of the Sandy Hook School demolition project.

Mrs Llodra said, “I understand the interest of the media to cover the Sandy Hook School demolition. Readers and viewers throughout the state and the nation remain very engaged in the story of our tragedy and continue to pursue all bits and pieces of information about the event itself, along with any and all following activity.

“I understand, too, that the demolition of the building is a very significant and compelling action that would draw some attention, even if it weren’t the site of a shooting that took the lives of 20 children and six educators. The fact that this is the very spot of such a horror elevates its importance as a news item,” Mrs Llodra added.

“However, I remain committed to protecting, as much as possible, the emotional health of our families, our Sandy Hook teachers and staff, our school kids and their parents, and all the members of our community,” she said.

“Those voices are telling me that the continuous coverage in newspapers and on television is wearing on our spirit and serves as a constant reminder of our great hurt. Parents and children throughout our community deserve to be able to travel our streets, read newspapers and watch television without being struck in the heart again and again by reports that cover any and all aspects of the shooting and its aftermath,” she said.

“The journey of recovery is fragile for so many. Let’s do everything we can to help each other on that journey,” Mrs Llodra said.

“So, on the one hand, I respect the media’s pursuit of information that is relevant, interesting, and timely. And I respect that readers and viewers have a ‘right to know’ some things. On the other hand, I see that the persistent coverage is having a deleterious effect on our mental health and poses impediments in our journey of recovery. For me, the balance tips in favor of the people of Newtown,” Mrs Llodra said.

(This story was updated at 8:35 am on Friday, November 1)

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