Relations Between Local Press and the NYPD Had Deteriorated Before Occupy Wall Street
Weeks after New York police first came under fire for alleged “abuses” of First Amendment freedoms during the apex of the Occupy Wall Street protests here in mid-November, the NYPD’s handling of the press remains a topic of scrutinty.
On Tuesday, congressman Jerrold Nadler called on U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to “initiate an investigation into law enforcement activities surrounding the Occupy Wall Street protests,” including the blocking of journalists during the Zuccotti Park eviction, which Mayor Bloomberg took coolly. And in his Village Voice column this week, titled “Bloomberg and Kelly bust the press,” Nat Hentoff billed journalists’ “treatment during the Occupy Wall Street raid” as “a disgrace to this city’s history.”
But the Occupy Wall Street incidents, which were addressed in a Nov. 21 letter to NYPD brass co-signed by 13 news organizations, and again in a meeting two days later between Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and representatives from several of those outlets, were actually only a recent development in a longer pattern of police-press showdowns stretching back at least to the summer, before Occupy Wall Street was a glimmer in Bloomberg’s eye.
Within the past year, Mickey Osterreicher, general counsel for the National Press Photographers Association, began noticing an uptick in complaints from photojournalists—both in New York and other cities—claiming police had interfered with their work.
"I’ve been dealing with this issue more over this past year than anytime before," he told Capital. "It just seemed like the situation with the police was getting worse. Many of the credentialed members [of the media] felt almost better off not displaying their credentials, or being very low key and looking like Joe Public rather than to be out there with actual credentials that could sometimes lead to them being identified for specific targeting."
Photo Credit: (warmsleepy / Flickr)