The NYPD's treatment of journalists covering its raid on Occupy Wall Street on Tuesday has been criticized not only be news outlets and press watchdog groups but by the top New York City officials. Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a press conference Tuesday that the media was kept away "to prevent a situation from getting worse and to protect members of the press." But nobody seems to be buying that defense. As such, the "shame!" chant pointed at officers continues to echo through the Zuccotti Park in the early morning hours rings true in the official statements.
Manhattan borough president Scott Stringer scolded his police department on Tuesday:
I cannot remember any time this many reporters were arrested during a protest … [T]he 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.
American foreign correspondents routinely put themselves in harm's way to do their jobs, in some of the most brutal dictatorships in the world. And their NYC colleagues deserve the freedom to make the same choice. Zuccotti Park is not Tiananmen Square.
N.Y. Civil Liberties Union executive director Donna Lieberman also doubted the NYPD's defense:
Swooping in, deliberately when no one is around, and then depriving the news media of access to information is entirely unacceptable … When police are engaging in behavior that they don’t want the public to know about, journalist are a prime target.
The Committee to Protect Journalists echoed the NYCLU's stance. Senior coordinator Carlos Lauria said:
We are alarmed by New York law enforcement's treatment of journalists covering the eviction of Occupy Wall Street today. Journalists must be allowed to cover news events without fear of arrest and harassment. It is particularly disturbing that government officials sought to block any coverage of the event at all.
The Society of Professional Journalists invokes the First Amendment in asking charges to be dropped:
SPJ calls for all charges against these journalists to be dropped and for greater care by police to avoid arresting or otherwise obstructing journalists who are simply and clearly doing their jobs.
In these recent instances, the journalists were either wearing press credentials or explained to police that they were reporters covering the protests. They were clearly exercising the constitutional right of a free press.
The Associated Press broke from the anti-NYPD sentiment in a Wednesday morning memo to their staff that scolded correspondents for tweeting about the arrests. Daily Intel quotes a version of the memo:
In relation to AP staff being taken into custody at the Occupy Wall Street story, we’ve had a breakdown in staff sticking to policies around social media and everyone needs to get with their folks now to tell them to knock it off … We have had staff tweet – BEFORE THE MATERIAL WAS ON THE WIRE – that staff were arrested.
The arrested journalists themselves so far have been quiet. We've compiled the list of all ten and will update as we learn more about each journalist's situation, the charges levied and the likely outcomes:
- Karen Matthews, Associated Press reporter
- Seth Wenig, Associated Press photographer
- Matthew Lysiak, New York Daily News (Not Charged)
- Julie Walker, NPR
- Jared Malsin, Blogger for the Local East Village at The New York Times
- Patrick Hedlund, DNAinfo.com News Editor
- Paul Lomax, freelance photographer for DNAinfo.com
- Doug Higginbotham, freelance video journalist working for TV New Zealand
- An unidentified Vanity Fair correspondent
- An unidentified Agance France Presse photographer
Ben Doernberg, a Wesleyan student, created this awesome in-depth look at the arrests using Storify: