November 15, 2011
Zuccotti Park Protesters Evicted During Media Blackout
In a previous post, I looked at citizen journalism and commented on what appeared to be censorship following the first Occupy Oakland eviction. At about 1am this morning, the police evicted Occupy Wall Street from Zuccotti Park in a surprise raid, using similar tactics. Credentialed reporter after credentialed reporter tweeted about being barred from the scene, roughed up, or arrested. About an hour into it, Hunter Walker of the New York Observer tweeted that the New York Police Department was blocking press access to the immediate area. News blog from the Guardian reports that a number of journalists were arrested - Julie Walker with national Public Radio, Matthew Lysiak with the New York Daily News, and Karen Matthews with the Associated Press. And to tie a bow on it, Anthony De Rosa from Reuters tweeted that the NYPD told CBS News to remove their helicopter from Zuccotti Park airspace. Media freedom is convenient when there is no dissent. When there is dissent, this freedom may be suspended. Occupier first amendment rights are reasonable, when they are out of sight and out of earshot. When Occupying in a public place, these rights may be curbed. For health and safety reasons. New York City Mayor Bloomberg cites health and safety concerns as the reason for eviction. Noise was kept down, crime was not up, the park was continually cleaned, and traffic flowed smoothly. What health and safety issues? Need I comment on the health and safety threats of police batons and pepper spray? Update: A New York State Supreme Court judge had the final say today. Although New Yorkers have the right to protest and assemble, this does not necessarily include the right to occupy a public area full time or to bring in tents and equipment. Rick Ellis writes for the Examiner that the FBI may be advising local governments concerning how to handle the press.