The number of journalists arrested at Occupy Wall Street has now reached six (there may be more), but the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) has had enough. It is publicly denouncing the arrests of those covering all Occupy protests and is demanding that Michael Bloomberg and city officials from across the country drop the charges against detained reporters.
In addition to those arrested here, there have been journalists arrested in Nashville, Atlanta, Milwaukee and Richmond, Virginia.
“We know that as protests escalate it may be difficult for police to distinguish bystanders from participants, but it is clear now that many journalists have been erroneously arrested without cause,” SPJ President John Ensslin said. “These errors must be rectified immediately.”
The New York Press Club’s President, Gabe Pressman, sent the following letter to Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly:
Dear Mr. Mayor and Police Commissioner Kelly:
On Tuesday morning, November 15th, as police officers acted to remove Occupy Wall Street protesters from Zuccotti Park, 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.
The actions of some police officers were not consistent with the long-established relationship between the NYPD and the press.
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.
We want the department to investigate the incidents involved this crackdown on Zuccotti Park and we want assurances it won’t happen again.
President, New York Press Club Foundation
Chairman, Freedom of the Press Committee