Censorship Watch: Keeping an Eye on the First Amendment at NY Occupy Wall Street Movement
The behavior of the NYPD and Mayor Bloomberg in the Zuccotti Park eviction and in dealing with Occupy Wall Street has been condemned for the shocking use of unlawful authority to suppress information and press. Scroll down below for links to articles covering this important issue as well as photos and videos of press being denied access during the Occupy Wall Street movement. Have a link, photo or video to contribute? Send it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
UPDATE 11.23.11: The New York Times is reporting that Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly has ordered the New York police officers not to interfere unreasonably with journalists access during news media coverage and warning that those who do will be subject to disciplinary action.
Read the full story here at newyorktimes.com.
11.21.11 The New York Times condemned the behavior of the NYPD this week, in a letter to New York Deputy Commissioner Paul J. Browne regarding NYPD Press Relations. The letter conveys the Times’ disappointment with the recent actions taken against the press during the Occupy Wall Street movement generally, and particularly during the November 15 raid on Zuccotti Park. Four incidents are specifically cited as a few of many examples of unacceptable police behavior.
• On 11/15 during the “eviction” of Zuccotti Park, a member of DCPI called out to all members of the press. He asked “who had credentials?” and then instructed those who did to leave the park immediately or be subject to arrest. At this point there were several hundred people and police officers inside the park. After making his announcement a Community Affairs member grabbed one newspaper photographer and dragged him from the park. At the same time this Community Affairs officer also threatened to arrest another credentialed photographer for being inside the park.
• A female photographer, who was carrying clearly visible DCPI-issued press credentials, was taking photos of protestors near the corner of Pine and Williams Streets about 9AM on 11/17/2001. At one point, an officer (recognizing that she was a member of the media) advised her to move to the sidewalk to avoid being caught up in the police action. As she moved towards the sidewalk, another officer told her to move to the sidewalk on the other side of the road. A short time later, before she got to any sidewalk, she was grabbed by a third officer and thrown to the ground, hitting her head on the pavement.
• A female reporter, also displaying DCPI-issued press credentials, was standing with a group of photographers at a barricade on Cedar Street, between Broadway and Trinity Place, about 12 PM on 11/17/2011 when a group of police officers moved towards them and started pushing the group back. One officer, described by the reporter as very tall (approximately 6’5″), shoved the reporter with both his arms, forcing the reporter to fall backwards, landing on her right elbow, and resulting in her yelling in pain. The reporter said the officer then proceeded to pick her up by the collar while yelling “stop pretending.” The reporter went to Bellevue Hospital for treatment of her injuries.
• Another incident occurred that same day near the west end of the park where a photographer, standing on the sidewalk on Trinity Place, was photographing a man the police were carrying from somewhere in the park who was covered in blood. The photographer was standing behind a metal barrier 20 to 30 yards from the scene. As he raised his camera to take a picture two other police officers came running toward him, grabbed a metal barrier and forcefully lunged at him striking the photographer in the chest, knees and shin. As they did that they screamed that he was not permitted to be taking pictures on the sidewalk — the most traditionally recognized public forum aside from a park.
The letter is signed by the New York Times as well as representatives of The National Press Photographers Association, The Daily News, Thomas Reuters, The Associated Press, WABC-TV, NBC Universal, the New York Press Photographers Association, Dow Jones & Company, WCBS-TV, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, and The New York Press Club. The New York Times Letter can be read in it’s entirety here.
In a powerful piece written by Michael Powell of the New York times, he reports:
At least since the Republican National Convention of 2004, our police have grown accustomed to forcibly penning, arresting, and sometimes spraying and whacking protesters and reporters. On Monday, The New York Times and 12 other organizations sent a letter of protest to the Police Department. “The police actions of last week,” the authors said, “have been more hostile to the press than any other event in recent memory.”
He goes on to point out that although no official change in policy has occurred within the Mayor’s office or the police department, the days when the rule was: treat cops reasonably and you can go about your business of recording and bearing witness, seem to be gone.
You can read the full New York Times article here.
The Huffington Post also covered the story, noting that The New York Civil Liberties Union sent another letter to Mayor Michael Bloomberg and police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, covering similar ground:
“The numerous reports we have received and have learned of make clear to us that the NYPD is aggressively blocking journalists from doing their constitutionally protected work and in some instances is even targeting journalists for mistreatment,” that letter said.
Bloomberg’s official statement after the raid, regarding the treatment of the press was to defend the NYPD’s policy of keeping the media back, saying it was intended to keep them out of harm’s way.
“The police department routinely keeps members of the press off to the side when they’re in the middle of a police action,” he said last week. “It’s to prevent the situation from getting worse, and it’s to protect the members of the press.”
And yet the Media Groups have cited numerous examples to the contrary, including an officer grabbing a photographer and dragging him from the park and another pushing a reporter, who fell on the ground.
A number of journalist groups have formed a coalition to monitor police-media relations. Members of the coalition include the Deadline Club, the New York City chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists; the Deadline Club Foundation; the Newspaper Guild of New York; the News Media Guild; the New York Press Club; the New York Press Club Foundation; the Newswomen’s Club of New York; the New York Press Photographers Association; the National Press Photographers Association; and the Society of Silurians.
You can read the full Huffington Post article here.
Below are some pictures and videos we collected of journalists being prevented from covering stories or being arrested or being roughed up. We plan on adding many more. If you have photos or videos send them to us at editor@theinterrobang and we’ll include them. We’re also going to collect stories, articles and reports. Or post them in the comment section.
ARTICLES AND LINKS:
NYCLU Letter,11.21.11: http://www.nyclu.org/files/releases/NYCLU%20Ltr%20to%20Mayor%20Bloomberg%20re%20Press-OWS%2011-21-11.pdf
New York Times Letter, 11.21.11: http://www.nyclu.org/files/releases/DCPI%20Letter%20-%20Signed%2011-21-11.pdf
Media, Civil Liberties Groups Look at Legislative Options to Address NYPD Action During Protests, 11.23.11: http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/culture/2011/11/4250659/media-civil-liberties-groups-look-legislative-options-address-nypd-a
New York Times Article, 11.22.11: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/22/nyregion/nypd-stops-reporters-with-badges-and-fists.html?_r=2&src=tp
NBC New York Report, 11.22.11: http://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local/Journalists-Protest-Occupy-Wall-Street-Police-Handling-134294538.html
Lone Citizen Journalist Stands Her Ground After Press Chased Away, 11.22.11: http://gothamist.com/2011/11/22/video_lone_gutsy_activist_tapes_occ.php
Journalists Protest Police Treatment, 11.21.11: http://nymag.com/daily/intel/2011/11/journalists-protest-police-treatment-occupy-eviction.html
Coalition Formed to Monitor Press/Police Relations in NYC, 11.21.11: http://www.nypressclub.org/newsletter/2011-11-21.html
Journalists Arrested, Beaten by Police. 11.17.11: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/17/occupy-wall-street-nov-17-journalists-arrested-beaten_n_1099661.html?ncid=edlinkusaolp00000003
Keith Gessen Among the OWS Journalist Arrests, 11.17.11: http://nymag.com/daily/intel/2011/11/keith-gessen-occupy-wall-street-journalist-arrests.html
26 Arrested Reporters and What They Do (The Awl), 11.17.11: http://www.theawl.com/2011/11/25-arrested-reporters-and-what-they-do
A Collection of Official Statements Regarding Treatment of the Press at OWS, 11.16.11: http://www.theatlanticwire.com/national/2011/11/press-not-foregetting-journalists-arrested-zuccotti-park/45047/
List of Journalist’s Tweets During Zuccotti Park Raid, 11.15.11: http://storify.com/bendoernberg/press-suppression-at-occupy-wall-street-raid
Reports Say Police Denied Access To Protest Site, 11.15.11: http://mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/11/15/reporters-say-police-denied-access-to-protest-site/
NYPD Creates Media Free Bubble Around Zuccotti, 11.15.11: http://www.mediabistro.com/tvspy/nypd-creates-media-free-bubble-around-zuccotti-park-during-occupy-raid_b29251
Committee to Protect Journalists Article, 11.15.11: http://www.cpj.org/2011/11/journalists-obstructed-from-covering-ows-protests.php
Media Reform Group “Free Press” Creates Petition asking Mayor Bloomberg to publicly commit to defending press freedom: http://act2.freepress.net/sign/free_speech/