In case you haven’t yet heard, the Occupy Wall Street encampment in Zuccotti Park is no more. During a late night raid, the protesters were forced out and everything, including a donated library, was dismantled by the police. However, in the hours since the eviction, a disturbing side story has developed. A number of journalists have alleged that the NYPD, seemingly on orders, violently tried to keep them from covering the event. No matter what you may have felt about the protesters or the camp itself, there’s something very unsettling about the idea that the police didn’t want the nation to see what happened last night in that park.
Police set up a barricade and kept journalists at a distance. Press badges apparently meant nothing. A rumor developed that the air space above the park had been suspended to keep news helicopters from getting any footage. This rumor was later confirmed by the CBS news desk.
But all of this is nothing compared to the allegations of violence against journalists simply trying to cover the action. A number of journalists have claimed to have been hassled and attacked by the police. During his fascinating live tweet of the action, the New York Times‘ Brian Stelter quoted a New York Post reporter as saying he was “roughed up.” Several journalists were arrested, including some from the New York Times and NPR. Twitter is full of stories of reporters being hounded, barricaded, and impeded. When one protester was injured and being wheeled away on a stretcher, a large amount of riot police made sure no one in the press could capture the moment.
During the night, as reporters struggled to do their jobs, many created a Twitter hashtag, “#mediablackout,” to collect the stories. The Huffington Post has a collection of some of the most damning accounts.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg has taken full credit for the eviction, saying at a press conference that “the final decision to act was mine and mine alone.” It may seem courageous for the man to take responsibility for what could be an unpopular decision. However, that seeming courage quickly turned to cowardice when the Mayor decided America didn’t deserve to see the consequences of said decision.
(photo via AP)
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