Timeline: One Year in the Debate Over Press Freedom
One year ago today I published a blog post entitled “Why I’m Tracking Journalist Arrests at Occupy Protests.” The next day, police raided New York City’s Zuccotti Park, where they arrested 12 journalists and blocked many others from documenting the raid. Here is a look back at the year in journalist arrests and debates over press freedom in the digital age.
This is part of my new post: Why I Won’t Stop Tracking Journalist Arrests.
Sept. 17, 2011: Occupy Wall Street begins in New York City
Sept. 24, 2011: John Farley of WNET/Thirteen is the first journalist arrestedwhile covering Occupy Wall Street.
Oct. 1, 2011: The Occupy Wall Street movement crosses the Brooklyn Bridge, leading to mass arrests, including the arrests of three journalists.
Nov. 15–17, 2011: The New York Police Department raids Zuccotti Park right before the two-month anniversary of Occupy Wall Street. Twelve journalists are arrested, with two more arrested on the actual anniversary two days later.
Nov. 21, 2011: New York media demand a meeting with NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly and Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne about abuses of press covering Occupy Wall Street.
Dec. 1, 2011: Forty-thousand people send letters and call their mayors, asking them to defend press freedom in their cities.
Dec. 8, 2011: The Committee to Protect Journalists releases its 2011 global census of journalist imprisonment, and finds that “the number of journalists imprisoned worldwide shot up more than 20 percent to its highest level since the mid-1990s.”
Dec. 9, 2011: Rep. Jerrold Nadler of New York calls on the Justice Department to investigate the NYPD’s raid on Zuccotti Park and its treatment of protesters and journalists.
Dec. 12, 2011: The NYPD arrests nine independent journalists, livestreamers and photographers at the Winter Garden in New York City. Video also revealsofficers blocking a New York Times photographer as he tries to cover the arrests.
Jan. 3, 2012: The NYPD raid the Brooklyn studio of Globalrevolution.tv, one of the central livestreaming groups covering Occupy Wall Street, and arrest six citizen journalists.
Jan. 18, 2012: The SOPA Internet Blackout spreads across the Web in protest of a piracy bill with broad First Amendment implications.
Jan. 25, 2012: Reporters Without Borders releases its yearly press freedom ranking. The U.S. plummets 27 spots to 47th in the world.
Jan. 28, 2012: Oakland police detain or arrest nine journalists when Occupy Oakland attempts to take over an empty building.
Feb. 2, 2012: Some cities respond to journalist arrests with apologies and police reprimands. Documentarian Josh Fox is arrested while trying to film a public hearing in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Feb. 9, 2012: Sixteen-thousand people send letters of support to journalists who have been arrested.
March 3, 2012: Bay Area journalists and press organizations meet with Oakland Mayor Jean Quan about ongoing press suppression and arrests in the city.
April 30, 2012: A coalition of elected officials and members of the press file a civil rights lawsuit against the NPYD seeking redress for police misconduct during Occupy Wall Street protests. The National Press Photographers Association joins the lawsuit later in the year.
May 3, 2012: On World Press Freedom Day, a coalition of press freedom and digital rights groups send a joint letter to Attorney General Eric Holder calling on the Justice Department to protect all people’s “right to record.”
May 14, 2012: The Justice Department releases a lengthy memo providing guidance to police departments and asserting that people’s right to record is protected under the First Amendment.
May 20, 2012: Four journalists are arrested while covering the NATO summit in Chicago. Other journalists and livestreamers complain about being targeted and harassed by police.
June 8, 2012: NYPD Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne tries to rewrite historyand denies the NYPD arrested journalists the department had earlier admitted to arresting.
July 25, 2012: Researchers at NYU and Fordham law schools release an eight-month study which finds the NYPD “consistently violated basic rights” by using aggressive force and obstructing press freedom.
July 31, 2012: Twitter bans journalist Guy Adams for revealing an NBC executive’s work email address during the opening ceremonies of the Olympics. (Adams was later reinstated.)
Aug. 27–Sept. 6, 2012: The Democratic and Republican conventions included a significant police and security detail, but there are relatively few incidents of press suppression.
Sept. 15–17, 2012: Eight journalist arrests occur on the one-year anniversary of Occupy Wall Street. This leads to another set of letters from the Society for Professional Journalists, the National Press Photographers Association and 13 other media organizations.