Is it over? Looks like.
Early Tuesday morning, NYPD swept through the original Occupy Wall Street encampment at Zuccotti Park in New York City, clearing out people and belongings, and arresting demonstrators. Journalists, too, were rounded up and carted away. And we’re not just talking bloggers here: reporters from AP, New York Times, NPR and NY Daily News were among those arrested.
Anecdotal reports include the deliberate destruction of the books in the OWS library (they had a library!), as well as personal items and gear.
The journalists themselves were not immune from violence. From New York Times reporter Brian Stelter‘s Twitter feed:
I’m w/ a NY Post reporter who says he was roughed up by riot police as Zuccotti was cleared. He thinks violence was “completely deliberate.”
Per @LindseyChrist, riot police didn’t distinguish between media & protesters. “They took a Post reporter and threw him in a choke hold.”
Even the airspace above the park was restricted. On the ground, reporters from Village Voice, Mother Jones, Byline Beat, Brooklyn Ink, the New York Observer and others were told by NYPD their credentials did not matter; they would not be allowed to cover the raid in any fashion.
The crackdown is apparently not unique to Zuccotti Park; varying reports indicate at least 18 mayors across the country have issued similar orders, most likely in coordination.
I’ve refrained from weighing in directly on the OWS movement, as I wasn’t able to observe the protests firsthand even in my hometown of Washington, DC. But the deliberate targeting of the media is unconscionable in a free society. What is happening here is no different than when more oppressive states quash the dissemination of information.
Leaders in America need a reality check. They criticize foreign governments for the silencing of speech and then act in coordination to block journalists from reporting on what is essentially an exercise in martial law. Constitutional interpretations regarding the right to assemble and public welfare aside, the deliberate suppression of a free press must be recognized as counter to our nation’s ideals.
These are hardly the last tent cities America will see, I’m afraid. We might just not hear about them through “official” channels.