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Arrests of reporters at Occupy Wall Street eviction ‘a total myth’ says NYPD

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New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly wants people to know that anyone who thinks badly of his department is simply misinformed.

In an interview published Thursday in the Queens Chronicle, Kelly defended both the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk tactics and its spying on members of the Muslim community. He also inisted that the forcible removal of protesters from Zuccotti Park last fall occurred only because they had defied orders to leave and were attempting to push through police lines.

At that point in the interview, Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne amplified Kelly’s remarks by stating that that only one actual journalist had been arrested during the eviction and that any accounts to the contrary were “a total myth,” which he attributed to protesters having forged press credentials in an attempt to get past police lines.

Gothamist has scrutinized Browne’s claims closely and concludes that they are technically correct — at least if you focus narrowly on the period of several hours during which the parK was being cleared and ignore the aftermath.

“Reporters were forced away to a penned-off area outside of the park, and many credentialed press complied,” the publication explains. “But hours after that eviction ‘operation’ was accomplished, the demonstrations continued—and several reporters were arrested, including AP writer Karen Matthews, photographer Seth Wenig, Daily News reporter Matthew Lysiak, and two reporters from DNAinfo: Patrick Hedlund and photographer Paul Lomax.”

Gothamist also communicated with the consulting director of the New York Press Club, Peter Bekker, who recalled that a spokesperson for New York Mayor Bloomberg had attempted at the time “to downplay the press suppression and arrests during that action by opining in his email that of the 26 reporters arrested, only five were credentialed by NYPD.”

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“The New York Press Club, to say the least, is disappointed in what this kind of official equivocation suggests about the significance to the mayor and police commissioner of a free press,” Bekker added.

The mayoral spokesperson has now written to Gothamist to clarify his email of last fall by explaining that although there were 26 arrests of journalists that day, they included some that occurred many hours after the eviction or even in other cities.

Gothamist, however, has continued to update its story with accounts of journalists — mainly freelancers and bloggers — who either say they were arrested that night or whose arrests were witnessed by protesters.

In response to the controversy, journalist Josh Stearns has created a Storify page which documents the arrests of eleven journalists in New York on the day of the eviction.

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“After becoming the epicenter for press suppression and journalist arrests over the last nine months, the NYPD is trying to rewrite history and pretend like nothing ever happened,” Stearns writes.

“Embedded in Paul Browne’s comments to the Queens Chronicle is a troubling statement about the First Amendment,” he comments. “Mr. Browne believes that it is the role of the NYPD to decide who is an ‘actual reporter.’ … Some of the people arrested last November didn’t have NYPD press credentials, but they had press badges on and were working for well established outlets like the New York Daily News, Vanity Fair, Agence France-Presse, and TV New Zealand. Even so, recent court cases and statements from the Department of Justice have made clear that as we enter an age of participatory media making, the protections of the First Amendment extend to all people.”

Photo by Jagz Mario via Flickr

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Republican lawmakers ask judge to destroy smoking gun documents proving GOP’s white supremacy

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Republicans on Monday sought a court order to block damning documents from being used against them in a lawsuit.

"North Carolina Republican lawmakers on Monday asked a court to make sure the files of the now-deceased GOP strategist Tom Hofeller are destroyed, or at least kept secret, instead of being used in a high-profile gerrymandering lawsuit," the Raleigh News & Observer reported.

"The filing comes after the groups behind the lawsuit, including Common Cause, accused Republican lawmakers of making false statements in court in a previous gerrymandering case, when the state’s 2011 maps were ruled unconstitutional," the newspaper noted. "That blockbuster accusation made national headlines and was, it said, based on Hofeller’s files which had been secret until recently."

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Trump angrily demands newspaper reveal unnamed sources behind bombshell report on his Russia policy

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President Donald Trump on Monday evening again lashed out at The New York Times for reporting on his Russia policy.

"The story in The New York Times about the U.S. escalating attacks on Russia’s power grid is fake news, and the failing New York Times knows it," Trump argued in a tweet sent after 10 p.m.

"They should immediately release their sources which, if they exist at all, which I doubt, are phony," he continued.

"Times must be held fully accountable," he demanded.

https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1140804748423118848

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Trump seethes and calls Fox ‘fake news’ after seeing a story that made him mad

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Trouble appears to be brewing between President Donald Trump and the cable news station he loves: Fox News.

In a tweet Monday night, the president lashed out at the network over its polling and called it “fake news’ — an epithet he usually reserves for mainstream outlets:

https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1140768516288782336?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

Media Matters for America Senior Fellow Matthew Gertz, who has previously noted that Trump appears to record news segments and watch them a few hours later, suggested that the president appeared to be reacting to an earlier segment from Special Report with Bret Baier. The segment showed that, even according to Fox News’ polling, Trump trails every single leading candidate in the Democratic field in head-to-head matchups.

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