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Police arrest reporters as press complains of media blackout at ‘Occupy Wall St.’

By Andrew Jones
Tuesday, November 15, 2011 14:16 EDT
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NYPD officers observe Occupy Wall protesters . Image via Flickr.
 
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“Occupy Wall Street” protesters weren’t the only group who had a difficult morning thanks to NYPD’s actions in Zuccotti Park.

A number of reporters complained of a media blackout from covering the morning raid. Police Commissioner Ray Kelly confirmed that several journalists were arrested by authorities.

The Associated Press reported that two of their reporters, writer Karen Matthews and photographer Seth Wenig, were taken into custody. The New York Daily News reported that their reporter Matthew Lysiak was also detained. NPR freelance reporter Julie Walker was arrested but indicated she has been released.

A photographer with Agance France Presse, a reporter for The Local East Village, and other journalists were also arrested. Police don’t currently know the exact number of journalists were arrested.

Lindsey Christ, a reporter for local New York One News, said she was getting pushed by police and also wrote, “No media allowed in.” She indicated to The New York Times‘s Brian Stelter, “Those 20 minutes were some of the scariest of my life.”

Mother Jones reporter Josh Harkinson reported that cops shoved him while he was taking a picture of a man being stretched into an ambulance.

Democracy Now and The Guardian contributor Ryan Deveraux tweeted, “Police are now pushing the press off the block. They just took the press pass off an NBC news anchor.”

The Village Voice reporter Rosie Gray told a police officer, “I’m the press.” The officer replied, “Not tonight.”

Columbia journalism student Andrew Katz tweeted, “NYPD says my @columbiajourn press badge isn’t legit enough to get me inside park.”

And even hours after the cleanup, reporters like local CW affiliate anchor Debra Alfarone revealed how police still were making it hard for the press, tweeting, “We’ve got kicked out of Zuccotti Park again.”

The city also closed airspace in lower Manhattan to prevent news helicopters from taking aerial footage of the police crackdown.

The human rights organizations PEN American Center and PEN International condemned the restrictions on press coverage as “an obvious abridgement of the First Amendment right of all Americans to monitor official actions that clearly carry their own First Amendment concerns.”

“Whatever the arguments for clearing and cleaning the park, denying the rest of us the opportunity to witness the police action through the independent reporting of a free media simply reinforces the suspicion that the city government is seeking to hide from democratic scrutiny,” said Kwame Anthony Appiah, president of PEN American Center.

Updated at 4:23pm ET by Eric W. Dolan

Photo credit: David Shankbone

Andrew Jones
Andrew Jones
Andrew Jones is a staff writer/reporter for Raw Story. Besides covering politics, he is also a freelance sports journalist, as well as a slam poetry and music artist. You can follow him on Twitter @sluggahjells.
 
 
 
 
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