The Observer was on hand to witness the NYPD raid on Occupy Wall Street last night–or as much as we were able to see from behind the metal barricades police used to keep both press and protesters away from the encampment in Zuccotti Park. We saw violence in the “Canyon of Heroes” along Lower Broadway, multiple arrests, anger at the media and an unexpected celebrity cameo.
We arrived on the scene shortly after one in the morning. Multiple protesters told us the raid began at about 12:40 a.m. We attempted to access the park multiple times but were told we could not cross the barricades despite identifying ourselves as press. Also stuck behind the barricades were photographers from the Wall Street Journal, New York Times and Reuters, a Japanese television crew, a man wearing a CNBC badge and an NBC cameraman who told us their live truck was blocked from entering the park. CBS reporter Manuel Gallegas also told us he was barred from the park.
Osama Bin Laden was killed by firefight in an American operation with zero U.S. casualties in Abottobad, Pakistan, President Obama announced tonight. In the hour leading up to the address, many news outlets reported the death through intelligence officials and broke the story on Twitter. President Obama wrote the speech himself, CNN reports. Video below.
The news break started when The White House announced a press conference at 9:45 PM, with every major news network breaking in. The conference, which was supposed to begin at 10:30 PM EST, didn’t start until shortly after 11PM. Between the announcement of the press conference and the commencement of President Obama’s speech, several people and news outlets began intially reporting on the subject of the conference via Twitter: Keith Urbahn, the Chief of Staff for former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, announced at 9PM that he had been “told by a reputable person they have killed Osama Bin Laden.” Local news outlets quickly siezed on it.
By the time President Obama had made his speech, The New York Times had already issued a 40-word draft of the news break. The New York Post declared: “WE GOT THE BASTARD.” News anchors began delivering commentary, and at 11:35 PM, President Obama began his speech. The New York Times notes that NBC News’ Brian Williams claimed on-air that word of the speech’s content started leaking out via congressional staffers as President Obama was writing the speech.
Previous to Monday evening, the last speech given by President Obama was at the White House Correspondent’s Dinner in Washington D.C. on Saturday night, a little over 24 hours before. He was followed by Saturday Night Live head writer Seth Meyers, who joked that Osama Bin Laden had been hiding on C-SPAN. The president – who explained in his speech Monday night that American forces had zeroed in on Bin Laden’s location earlier this week – clearly enjoyed the joke.