At least six journalists were among more than 400 arrested during the Occupy Oakland demonstration in California over the weekend.
Protesters clashed with police in what began as a midday rally on Saturday that escalated into violence with rock throwing and tear gas spraying. Protesters are also accused of breaking into Oakland City Hall, vandalizing the walls and burning an American flag, according to news reports.
Police detained about 400 of the Oakland protesters at the YMCA, claiming that only two journalists were among the number. The Oakland Police Department tweeted Saturday: “Re reports of 2 journalists arrested, they were released at scene. OPD PIO ensured no other prof. media involved.”
However, according to Gavin Aronsen at Mother Jones, six reporters were arrested by the Oakland Police Department. The reporters include Aronsen, an editorial fellow at the San Francisco-based Mother Jones, Kristin Hanes of KGO, John C. Osborn of the East Bay Express, Vivian Ho of the San Francisco Chronicle, Yael Chanoff of the San Francisco Bay Guardian, and Susie Cagle, founder of the Graphic Journos collective.
Hanes, Ho, Cagle and Osborn were released at the YMCA after being arrested. No charges were filed. Aronsen and Chanoff were taken to jail and later released. It is not clear if they were charged.
One web site reports that 52 journalists have now been arrested during the various Occupy protests. That number includes citizen journalists, according to Free Press' Josh Sterns, who tracks journalist arrests at Occupy protests across the nation.
In an operations plan from Nov. 14, Oakland police were instructed that “individuals possessing official media identification, or claiming media affiliation, shall be allowed to engage in activity afforded to media personnel in accordance with our policy.”
Furthermore, a separate policy states that the media has the right to cover all aspects of a demonstration.
“The media shall be permitted to observe and shall be permitted close enough access to the arrestees to record their names,” according to the policy. “Even after a dispersal order has been given, clearly identified media shall be permitted to carry out their professional duties in any area where arrests are being made, unless their presence would unduly interfere with the enforcement action.”