Washington, D.C. —The singling out of credentialed journalists in an attempt to separate them from the news events unfolding at the police disbanding of the Occupy Wall Street protests is outrageous and unacceptable, according to Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press Executive Director Lucy A. Dalglish.
“It’s extremely disturbing that credentialed reporters would be singled out in a roundup aimed at preventing them from witnessing police activity at the disbanding of the Occupy Wall Street camp,” Dalglish said. “What country are we living in?
“If it’s obvious to police that these are bona fide newspeople — they have visible press credentials and they have clearly identified themselves — they should be allowed to cover these news events without interference,” she added.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s claims that journalists were being kept away from the activity for their own protection ring hollow, she said, adding, “As the owner of a major media company, Mayor Bloomberg surely knows journalists cover dangerous situations every day. I suspect city officials merely didn’t want the added hassle of answering media questions and responding to media photographs.”
Concerned that New York isn’t the only city in which journalists covering “Occupy” protests have been arrested, harassed and generally blocked from covering events, Dalglish said, “Even if reporters and photographers get swept up in a general detention of protesters, once they get to the booking process, status as a professional journalist should be recognized,” she said. “Dumping reporters and photographers on a police bus and holding them overnight, as some have reported happened to them, shouldn’t happen in a nation with a robust history of and respect for freedom of the press.”
The Reporters Committee offered some advice to journalists covering the Occupy protests:
- Always carry and clearly display your press credentials issued by police or other recognized official authority.
- Report on events in a way that does not interfere with or obstruct police activities.
- Bring government-issued photo identification. If you are detained without ID, the police likely will hold you until positive identification can be made.
- Carry cash to post bond, if possible.
- If you are detained, comply with police orders and identify yourself as a member of the press. Ask the arresting officer to notify a supervisor that a reporter is being detained.
If you do not have access to legal counsel through your news organization and you are arrested while covering or photographing a news event, call the Reporters Committee legal hotline at 800-336-4243 or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Reporters Committee regularly files friend-of-the-court briefs and its attorneys represent journalists and news organizations pro bono in court cases that involve First Amendment freedoms, the newsgathering rights of journalists and access to public information. Stay up-to-date on our work by signing up for our monthly newsletter and following us on Twitter or Instagram.