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. 18, 2011: The NYPD admits to arresting journalists with NYPD press credentials.

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.

Nov. 23, 2011: The NYPD issues a formal memo ordering officers to avoid “unreasonably interfer[ing]” with journalists. (Ten days later the NYPD arrestanother journalist.)

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.

Dec. 13, 2011: A series of “Who is a Journalist?” posts appear herehere andhere.

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.

Occupy Athens, circa 350 BC - Was Diogenes the First Occupier?

NPR has been doing a series called NewsPoets in which a poets comes and spends the day at NPR and then puts the days news into verse. A recent segment featured Pulitizer Prize winner Philip Schultz, who said he came to the project with an idea in mind, even though his final poem went in a different direction. In the lead up to the project he found himself thinking about the greek phillosopher Diogenes. 

"What would Diogenes be doing today his lamp in daylite looking for an honest man. […] I mean here’s a guy who, by choice, lived in a tub in the middle of Athens. He believed that poverty was nobility. And here he was the founder of the cynic philosophy, cynicism, and just lived on the outskirts of politics."

I’ve studied some greek philosophy, but I hadn’t heard of Diogenes. Based on Schultz’s description Diogenes sounded like the first Occupier. He set up camp in a public square, was skeptical of money and power, and saw himself as outside traditional politics.

The parrellels deepen once you look further into Diogenes’ bio and philosophy. Diogenes believed virtue was rooted in action not theory or reputation. He was known for public stunts designed to critique power and social conventions, including mocking Alexander the Great and defacing currency (even though his father minted coins for a living).

Finally, Diogenes would have likely felt at home in our globally connected age where resistance movements across borders and oceans find solidarity and support each other. He coined the word “cosmopolitan” and claimed to be “a citizen of the world” purposefully eschewing notions of citizenship tied to nationalism or a particular city state.

This is in no way a comprehensive overview of Diogenes, and may be a convenient curration of facts about a complex and problematic character. Nonetheless, we can see in Diogenes some important commonality with the current Occupy movement, and that in and of itself is interesting.  

…………………….

Sources

Philip Schultz Writes The Day In Verse:  http://www.npr.org/2012/09/28/161950546/newspoet-philip-schultz-writes-the-day-in-verse (NPR did not trascribe the full audio of this interview so be sure to listen to the audio for the quote I include above) 

Diogenes of Sinope on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diogenes_of_Sinope

Images:

Diogenes by John William Waterhouse

Alexander the Great visits Diogenes at Corinth by W. Matthews

Diogenes sitting in his jar. Painting by Jean-Léon Gérôme

Law clinics at four top universities gather damning evidence of widespread police misconduct during Occupy - including press suppression and abuse.

New evidence is emerging that paints an increasingly troubling picture of the NYPD’s disregard for journalists, photographers and citizen reporters who were trying to cover Occupy Wall Street. Over at the Atlantic, Conor Friedersdorf pulls a few highlights from a new collaborative investigation conducted by leading law clinics at four leading colleges.

Below are two that discuss press suppression and journalist arrests directly. 

  • A journalist stated that when he asked a non-uniformed officer for his name at a march, the officer pushed the journalist against a wall and held him there, threatening him that if he kept asking questions, he would get “his fucking ass beat.” The journalist recorded interviews with two bystanders immediately after the incident. One bystander stated that he witnessed the officer using abusive language toward the journalist. He then told the journalist that the officer “put his chest in your face and pushed you around.” The other bystander told the journalist that the officer “[got] up in your face and [shouted] at you. He pressed you against the wall of the supermarket.”
  • A journalist reported that officers threw down and beat a photographer with batons, even after he had shown his press pass. The journalist reported that the photographer “yelled several times, ‘I’m PRESS! PRESS!’ yet was slammed on the head [with a baton] twice after he’d been thrown to the ground when the police shoved back the protesters.” In the same report, the photographer stated: “there was another push from the police — they saw me fall …. Just didn’t care …. Then came the batons. I couldn’t see if the people that were on top of me previously got hit at all but I certainly did, twice to the back and once on the head.”

Article: http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2012/07/14-specific-allegations-of-nypd-brutality-during-occupy-wall-street/260295/ 

Report: http://cdn.theatlantic.com/static/mt/assets/politics/Suppressing%20Protest.pdf

Visual Storytelling on Steroids
This is one slide from an incredible example of how graphic journalists are mashing up audio, photography and illustration to tell complex and in-depth stories.
This piece from Luke Radl focuses on the NATO protests in Chicago last month. Matt Bors of Cartoon Movement notes in an email that this may be the first cartoon in which all the text is in HTML, therefore search engine friendly.
Click through the entire piece, listen to the audio and check out the photos here: http://www.cartoonmovement.com/icomic/38 
P.S. For more great graphics journalism see Susie Cagle’s Tumblr.

Visual Storytelling on Steroids

This is one slide from an incredible example of how graphic journalists are mashing up audio, photography and illustration to tell complex and in-depth stories.

This piece from Luke Radl focuses on the NATO protests in Chicago last month. Matt Bors of Cartoon Movement notes in an email that this may be the first cartoon in which all the text is in HTML, therefore search engine friendly.

Click through the entire piece, listen to the audio and check out the photos here: http://www.cartoonmovement.com/icomic/38 

P.S. For more great graphics journalism see Susie Cagle’s Tumblr.

Four Critical Right to Record Developments in 2012

Via @TimKarr

People, and even police officers, often don’t understand our rights with regard to public photography. At the local level the newsgathering rights of every individual, whether credentialed as a journalist or not, become even murkier.

But that’s changing:

    • In January, the Justice Department filed a statement urging the U.S. District Court of Maryland to uphold an individual’s “First Amendment right to record police officers in the public discharge of their duties” and to find that “officers violate citizens’ Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights when they seize and destroy such recordings without warrant or due process.”
    • In late March, Simon Glik won a civil suit against the City of Boston, after the First Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously ruled against his arrest for attempting to record police brutality. The court found that Glik had a “constitutionally protected right to videotape police carrying out their duties in public.”
    • In early May, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ordered a preliminary injunction against the Illinois Eavesdropping Act, which made the recording of police officers without their consent a felony, punishable by four to 15 years in prison.
  • Earlier this week the Justice Department again intervened in the Maryland case, with aunequivocal statement supporting the right to record police officers, urging the Baltimore Police Department to instruct its officers to protect this First Amendment freedom.
Don’t Mess With Librarians. Period.
Via http://truth-out.org/news/item/9369-occupy-wall-street-librarians-strike-back
"Thursday, members of Occupy Wall Street took a step toward forcing the city of New York to reveal the facts of that night to the public, as they filed a federal lawsuit against the city, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly and Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty, seeking to hold them accountable for violations of their constitutional rights in the course of the raid, as well as subsequent smaller raids that targeted the People’s Library - the movement’s most visible demonstration, through the collection and sharing of books in public spaces, of the rights to free speech and free assembly.
[…]
Months after the raid, the People’s Library still represents one of the more chilling chapters in the movement’s short history: the political repression of books and of those who curate them. Two librarians were arrested in the raid and others have been targeted for harassment and arrest simply for displaying books in the public parks when Occupy holds actions and other events in them. “This is why I was sleeping out in these parks all those nights in the first place,” said librarian Frances Mercanti-Anthony. “This kind of injustice.”“
Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nakrnsm/3509076374/sizes/o/in/photostream/

Don’t Mess With Librarians. Period.

Via http://truth-out.org/news/item/9369-occupy-wall-street-librarians-strike-back

"Thursday, members of Occupy Wall Street took a step toward forcing the city of New York to reveal the facts of that night to the public, as they filed a federal lawsuit against the city, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly and Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty, seeking to hold them accountable for violations of their constitutional rights in the course of the raid, as well as subsequent smaller raids that targeted the People’s Library - the movement’s most visible demonstration, through the collection and sharing of books in public spaces, of the rights to free speech and free assembly.

[…]

Months after the raid, the People’s Library still represents one of the more chilling chapters in the movement’s short history: the political repression of books and of those who curate them. Two librarians were arrested in the raid and others have been targeted for harassment and arrest simply for displaying books in the public parks when Occupy holds actions and other events in them. “This is why I was sleeping out in these parks all those nights in the first place,” said librarian Frances Mercanti-Anthony. “This kind of injustice.”“

Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nakrnsm/3509076374/sizes/o/in/photostream/

The US loses ground in yet another world press freedom ranking - from the just released Freedom House report:

"The overall score declined by one point due to detentions, rough police tactics, and other difficulties encountered by journalists while covering protests associated with the Occupy
movement.”

According the Freedom House the US is ranked 22 in press freedom worldwide. Reporters Without Borders earlier placed the US at 47 in the world for press freedom (a drop of 22 places due in large part to journalist arrests at Occupy protests).

Press Suppression: See Something, Say Something

If you have been in an airport, train or just about any major city in the US in the past few years you have seen the Department of Homeland Security’s campaign “See Something, Say Something.” In the lead up to the May First protests and general strike I wanted to remix that idea to encourage people to spread the word about press suppression and journalist arrests. Below are two posters designed to loosely mimic this DHS poster. Please share them, spread them, remix them. 

Remember - if you are covering the events around May First, look out for your fellow journalists and photographers and if you see press suppression or arrests tag your tweets, videos, and photos with #journarrest. Send tips to me on Twitter @jcstearns.

  

Images by @PWeiskel08 and @Katz.

"The relationship between activism, journalism and truth-telling has always been complicated"

By Laurie Penny

"I thought I got into journalism to tell truths and right wrongs and occasionally get into parties I wouldn’t normally be cool enough to go to. Right now though, with a few exceptions, professional journalism is rarely seen as an exercise in holding power to account. Justly or unjustly, the media, especially but not exclusively the mainstream, corporate-controlled press, has come to be seen as the enemy of the voiceless rather than their champion. Justly or unjustly, few people believe what they read in the papers or watch on the news anymore, because belief has long ceased to be quite as important as complicity when it comes to the Daily Mail, the Daily Post or News International. On the streets of Athens and Madrid as well as during the London riots of August 2011, journalists have been threatened and attacked by desperate young people making havoc in the streets. Why? Not because these young people don’t want to be seen, but because they don’t want to be seen through the half-closed eyes of privilege."

Read the excellent, nuanced and complicated full post here: http://www.warrenellis.com/?p=13926

OccupyWallSt: “Why we need free media”

"In response to the need for real coverage of our movement, independent journalists have worked tirelessly to document Occupy since the beginning. OccupyWallSt.org was one of the first movement-based sources of information to arise even before the Occupation of Liberty Square. Thanks to our horizontal, participatory structure, we are now just one of many - more than we could count. Dozens of other media sources have arisen since, across virtually every type of media from print magazines to Tumblr. While the mainstream media may claim that our movement in waning, the truth is that there far too much happening across the country and the world for one website to cover - even one focused on the Occupy movement like ours. We not only encourage people to read movement-based journalism, we also encourage anyone who is interested to get involved with existing projects, donate resources, or start making your own!"

Source: http://occupywallst.org/article/why-we-need-free-media/

Over the weekend Occupy Wall Street protesters re-occupied Zuccotti Park in New York City, and police moved quickly and in many cases violently to end the occupation. In the fray at least three citizen journalists appear to have been arrested and many other reporters, both citizen and professional, described harassment and violence from the NYPD. The photo above is from Andrew Katz.
If you are just catching up on the events of the weekend here are some of the best links from around the web.
Storify on Policy Brutality by @MegRobertson: http://storify.com/megrobertson/essential-videos-pics-from-m17-at-zuccotti-park
Storify on Press Suppression by @bendoernberg: http://storify.com/bendoernberg/nypd-vs-the-press
J.A. Meyerson on the Police Raid: http://www.truth-out.org/re-occupation-and-police-raid-zuccotti-park-set-tone-radical-spring/1332097105
Huffington Post on the Re-Occupation: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/16/occupy-wall-street-6-months-later_n_1352752.html?ref=new-york&ir=New%20York
New York Times “Scores Arrested”: http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/03/17/arrests-made-as-protesters-mark-occupy-wall-streets-six-month-anniversary/
The Guardian’s Ryan Devereaux was there: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/mar/18/occupy-wall-street-six-month-anniversary?CMP=twt_gu

Over the weekend Occupy Wall Street protesters re-occupied Zuccotti Park in New York City, and police moved quickly and in many cases violently to end the occupation. In the fray at least three citizen journalists appear to have been arrested and many other reporters, both citizen and professional, described harassment and violence from the NYPD. The photo above is from Andrew Katz.

If you are just catching up on the events of the weekend here are some of the best links from around the web.

Storify on Policy Brutality by @MegRobertson: http://storify.com/megrobertson/essential-videos-pics-from-m17-at-zuccotti-park

Storify on Press Suppression by @bendoernberg: http://storify.com/bendoernberg/nypd-vs-the-press

J.A. Meyerson on the Police Raid: http://www.truth-out.org/re-occupation-and-police-raid-zuccotti-park-set-tone-radical-spring/1332097105

Huffington Post on the Re-Occupation: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/16/occupy-wall-street-6-months-later_n_1352752.html?ref=new-york&ir=New%20York

New York Times “Scores Arrested”: http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/03/17/arrests-made-as-protesters-mark-occupy-wall-streets-six-month-anniversary/

The Guardian’s Ryan Devereaux was there: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/mar/18/occupy-wall-street-six-month-anniversary?CMP=twt_gu