As thousands of Occupy Wall Street protesters took to the streets on Thursday, journalists once again found themselves a target of police violence and arrests.
Reporters took to Twitter and, in some cases, to television to spread the word of the heavy hand police were using against them. It appeared to be a repeat of a similar scene two days earlier, when journalists were roughed up and arrested as the NYPD forcibly cleared the Occupy Wall Street encampment in lower Manhattan.
Lucy Kafanov, a reporter for the RT television network, said she was hit with a police baton while trying to film the protests. She told another reporter for her network that she had her press credentials clearly visible, but was still struck. She also said that she witnessed another reporter from the IndyMedia network being “slammed against the wall” and arrested.
“It does not seem police are making a distinction between press and protesters,” she said. Other journalists reported similar incidents.
“Saw NYPD hitting a man with a nightstick. Tried to take a picture but police grabbed me and shoved me across the street,” DNAInfo editor Julie Shapiro tweeted. “The NYPD just slammed a barricade into a photographer,” another report read.
The Daily Caller also said that two of its reporters were “assaulted” with batons.
Josh Stearns, a member of media reform group Free Press who has been tracking the arrests of journalists at Occupy movements, estimates that 26 have been arrested in total since the protests began two months ago. On Thursday, that number looked set to grow substantially, as reports of arrests poured in. Baltimore reporter Ryan Harvey and In These Times writer J.A. Meyerson — were reportedly arrested.
In addition, a picture said to be of Keith Gessen, editor of n+1 magazine, being held on the ground by police was tweeted. Gessen and two other journalists were later said to have been arrested, and video footage emerged of Gessen being taken away by police. His case was somewhat different than the others, though, since he appeared to be participating in civil disobedience. He later made a statement to a local ABC station explaining why he had participated in the protests.
A New York judge has upheld the city’s dismantling of the Occupy Wall Street encampment, saying that the protesters’ first amendment rights don’t entitle them to camp out indefinitely in the plaza.
Supreme Court Justice Michael Stallman on Tuesday denied a motion by the demonstrators seeking to be allowed back into the park with their tents and sleeping bags.
OWS has (temporarily) taken root in a new park at 6th and Canal in lower Manhattan. It is owned by Trinity Church, with a delegation of faith leaders en route to support.
…the National Lawyers Guild obtained a court order allowing Occupy Wall Street protesters to return with tents to the park. The guild said the injunction prevents the city from enforcing park rules on Occupy Wall Street protesters.
In all of these instances, most people think the problem is that these are the acts of a “few bad apples.” But taken together, one has to ask: Should an orchard producing so many bad apples be allowed to continue operating?
Another question is raised by the attitude of some activists in the Occupy Wall Street struggle who believe that the police are part of the “99 percent” that the movement is speaking for. For example, when the arrests on the Brooklyn Bridge were taking place, some marchers who hadn’t been trapped appealed to police with chants of “Join us, you’re one of us.”
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Watch #OCCUPYWALLSTREET on Livestream!
A group of occupiers have made their way to the Citibank branch at 555 Laguardia, where they attempted to close their accounts with the bank. They were promptly locked in the branch and are currently being arrested by NYPD.
VIDEO 4: NYPD officer runs over observer for the National Lawyer’s Guild with a scooter, and leaves it on him, before another officer lunges in with a baton. They later “brutally dragged the injured man away, flipped him over, and kneed him full force in the small of the back as they handcuffed and arrested him.”
Last night Mayor Bloomberg and the NYPD notified Occupy Wall Street participants about plans to “clean the park”—the site of the Wall Street protests—tomorrow starting at 7am. “Cleaning” was used as a pretext to shut down “Bloombergville” a few months back, and to shut down peaceful occupations elsewhere.
Bloomberg says that the park will be open for public usage following the cleaning, but with a notable caveat: Occupy Wall Street participants must follow the “rules”.
NYPD Police Commissioner Ray Kelly has said that they will move in to clear us and we will not be allowed to take sleeping bags, tarps, personal items or gear back into the park.
This is it—this is their attempt to shut down #OWS for good.
PLEASE TAKE ACTION
1) Call 311 (or +1 (212) NEW-YORK if you’re out of town) or text 2311692 and tell Bloomberg to support our right to assemble and to not interfere with #OWS.
2) Come to #OWS TONIGHT AT MIDNIGHT to defend the occupation from eviction.
For those of you who plan to help us hold our ground—which we hope will be all of you—make sure you understand the possible consequences. Be prepared to not get much sleep. Be prepared for possible arrest. Make sure your items are together and ready to go (or already out of the park.) We are pursuing all possible strategies; this is a message of solidarity.