Media Blackout During OWS Eviction
In the dark hours of Tuesday, November 15, the NYPD orchestrated a raid on the Occupy Wall Street encampment at Zuccotti Park on the orders of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Journalists soon began reporting on Twitter that they were being prevented from reporting about the police’s actions — and next, reports emerged of police harassment, abuse and even arrests. Ten journalists, some from the NPR, the Associated Press and the New York Daily News, were arrested. One journalist from the New York Post was put in a choke hold.
Bloomberg said that the “media blackout” – keeping out the press — was meant “to prevent a situation from getting worse and to protect members of the press.” Was Bloomberg implying that, if the press reported about what happened, the “situation” would somehow get worse, to the point that reporters would find themselves in need of protection? As one journalist from the Village Voice found out early Tuesday, telling the police “I’m press!” evoked an answer of “Not tonight.”
A total of 23 journalists have been arrested since Occupy Wall Street began two months ago. Many more have been tear-gassed, pepper sprayed and subjected to rough treatment in cities including Chicago, Denver, Oakland and Portland. Authorities seem to be quite determined to make sure word about what is happening doesn’t get out: There have been reports of police turning on strobe lights to disable video cameras, so people can’t document what is going on.
As the New York Press Club said in a statement,
“…the brash manner in which officers ordered reporters off the streets and then made them back off until the actions of the police were almost invisible is outrageous.”
Take action and tell Bloomberg, Jean Quan and the US Conference of Mayors across the country that they must drop all charges against journalists and publicly commit to ensuring press freedoms for those covering all the protests and police actions — that they must publicly commit to upholding the First Amendment. It is vital that the word gets out about what happened on the morning of November 15 in Zuccotti Park and what is happening today’s Global Day of Action. It is vital that the messenger is not silenced — is the US a country that truly values, and allows for, freedom of the press?
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Photo taken Day 60 OWS on November 15 by david_shankbone