Nov 20, 2008 at 5:29 pm

About two dozen supporters accompanied Michigan Citizen Reporter Diane Bukowski to her arraignment today in 36th District Court in Detroit, where the long-time reporter said she plans a “vigorous defense” against charges she interfered at the scene of a fatal traffic accident that followed a police chase.

Michigan State Police arrested Bukowski on Election Day (read more details here).

She says she was not interfering with their work and that police erased pictures on her digital camera that she’d taken at accident scene.

At her arraignment, Bukowski’s attorney, John Royal, waived the maximum 14 days between arraignment and preliminary exam, saying they plan to interview several witnesses and comb through evidence. Her next hearing is scheduled for Dec. 16.

Bukowski is charged with five counts of assaulting, resisting and obstructing police, each a felony punishable by up to two years in prison and a $2,000 fine. She pleaded not guilty and was released on $5,000 personal bond.

Outside the courtroom, about two dozen supporters passed a red knit hat seeking donations for her legal defense. They erupted in applause as Bukowski emerged after processing.

“It was an egregious violation of the First Amendment,” said Bukowski, adding that police “viciously interfered” while she was just trying to do her job. Police say that Bukowski resisted their orders.

She said she was about 50 feet away from two yellow tarps on the ground when she took pictures, but wouldn’t comment about any other specifics of the crash scene.

The Citizen’s Teresa Kelly said the case is about truth, justice and freedom of the press.