The 11/15/11 eviction of #OccupyWallStreet from Liberty Plaza involved attacks on free speech beyond the destruction of our library and silencing of the occupiers voices. The New York Press Club is calling for an investigation into press suppression during the eviction:
“The Bloomberg administration appears to have made a conscious decision to exclude the press from Tuesday’s Zuccotti Park purge. If true, the New York Press Club strongly condemns what would seem to be a strategic decision to cloak potentially volatile police activity from public view.
While attempting to reach the scene, a number of reporters were shoved away and several were arrested in areas distant from the park itself. Police reportedly did not acknowledge the journalistic status of those reporters even after identities were clearly established.
Mayor Bloomberg and NYPD brass say that excluding the press is “routine” during police actions. DCPI, Paul Browne, in maintaining that the press was allowed access to the perimeter of the park before and during the purge was quoted as saying, “everybody got their shot.” Browne’s position was contradicted by reporters on the scene who said they and their colleagues were deliberately and in some cases forcefully excluded or arrested before, during and after the eviction.
WNBC reporter Gabe Pressman, president of the New York Press Club Foundation and chair of its Freedom of the Press Committee has written a letter to Mayor Bloomberg and NYPD Commissioner Kelly calling for an investigation of the “media blackout” tactic, calling the exclusion and arrests of reporters, “outrageous.” New York Press Club president, Glenn Schuck has co-signed the letter which is posted, below.
Gabe Pressman has also written a criticism on his WNBC blog of the City’s tactics that can be read here.
Other local, national and international press organizations have issued statements condemning the suppression of press coverage and the arrests of working reporters by governments and their police forces:
The New York Press Club is interested to hear from reporters who found themselves siginficantly stifled by official actions during the Zuccotti Park police event.
LETTER TO THE MAYOR AND POLICE COMMISSIONERDear Mr. Mayor and Police Commissioner Kelly:
On Tuesday morning, November 15th, as police officers acted to remove Occupy Wall Street protesters from Zuccotti Park, several reporters protested that they were the victims of harassment and that their rights under the First Amendment were violated.
A few were arrested or detained.
The actions of some police officers were not consistent with the long-established relationship between the NYPD and the press.
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.
We want the department to investigate the incidents involved in this crackdown on Zuccotti Park and we want assurances it won’t happen again.
President, New York Press Club Foundation
Chairman, Freedom of the Press Committee
President, The New York Press Club