At least six journalists were arrested during the NYPD’s raid on Zuccotti Park in the wee hours of yesterday morning and the New York Press Club has contacted the mayor and police commissioner asking for an official investigation.
“The actions of some police officers were not consistent with the long-established relationship between the NYPD and the press,” wrote New York Press Club Foundation President Gabe Pressman in a letter sent to Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Ray Kelly.
In addition to the multiple arrests, police kept reporters behind barricades prevented from viewing the eviction of Zuccotti Park. The Observer was blocked from viewing the protests and witnessed credentialed reporters from a Japanese television film crew, the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Reuters, CBS, CNBC and NBC being similarly thwarted in their attempts to report on the raid.
“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,” Mr. Pressman wrote. “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.”
Mr. Pressman asked Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Kelly to explain themselves–and to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
“We want the department to investigate the incidents involved this crackdown on Zuccotti Park and we want assurances it won’t happen again,” Mr. Pressman wrote.
The Society of Professional Journalists has also condemned arrests of reporters at Occupy Wall Street.
In a press conference the morning after the raids, the Observer asked Mayor Bloomberg about the NYPD’s treatment of the press during the Zuccotti Park raid. He said he kept the press away from the eviction for their own good.
“The Police Department routinely keeps members of the press off to the side when they are in the middle of a police action. It’s to prevent a situation from getting worse and to protect the members of the press who have the same rights as everybody else, and we have to provide protection and we’ve done exactly that,” Mayor Bloomberg said.