MOments before Areest of five Journlaist on S-15 in front of Trinity Church by Cory V. Clark
New York, NY September 17, 2012-The rights of journalists' have, for the course of this country's history, been one of the most sacred institutions. Even when everything else had gone wrong we were free to talk about, photograph, or video it. We may have been beaten and abused in a lot of ways; however, we did our jobs without fear of arrest, so long as we didn't legitimately break the law.
Even in extremely tense situations such as the DNC, the RNC, and the NATO summit in Chicago, the arrest of a journalist was a rare event. Often if there was such an occurrence they were released without charge. All of this would change this past weekend in New York City for OWS's one year anniversary.
It's not that journalists were arrested that is the problem; it is the fact that they were targeted for arrest without cause or provocation.
On the evening I arrived, I was told by an NYPD LT. that my press credentials meant nothing here. This was the tone that was set for journalists who came from all over the world to witness what they felt would be the celebration of a life time and perhaps the reemergence of the Occupy Movement to the front of the pages.
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On the first day of protests as Occupiers marched down the side walk from Washington Sq. to Zuccotti Park, police continually pointed out journalists they thought could paint them in an unfavorable light.
At one point, police came after me and grabbed me by the arm in an attempt to arrest me.
However, I had been warned by the police's telegraphing behavior, and warned the NLG, practitioners of black bloc tactics, and members of various other groups I had imbedded with over the past year.
When the officer made the arrest attempt, I was immediately de-arrested and pulled into the crowd to safety at the back of the march, while police changed their targets to some protesters with a banner and others who had their faces covered with bandanas.
After the violent attack had subsided due to a small, feisty woman from Philadelphia who defended herself from police hostilities, even kicking officers' in the genitals for their trouble. The ruckus that she had caused had put the police in a situation where they were surrounded and outnumbered by now enraged protesters chanting shame and let her go, causing commanders to give the order to withdraw for the time being.
This, however, was not to be the end of the assaults on journalists.
After the protest had arrive at Zuccotti Park journalists were prevented from taking any photographs from the side walk of the crowd gathered, on several occasions photographers were told they would be arrested if the stopped even for a moment outside of the barricaded park. In addition they were prevented from climbing anything that would give them a good high angle shot.
Around 8:30 in the evening threats and intimidation turned into violent action by the police for a second time. A group of five photojournalists were attacked and arrested by police while attempting to photograph a series of arrests in front of Trinity Church.
Police had already formed a wall across the sidewalk blocking foot traffic and preventing the observation of arrest being carried out on the other side in front of Trinity Church.
The aggression started after Sgt. Daiz of the 7 th precinct told one photographer "I will be engaging you later," pointing his finger at him in a threatening manner.
Sgt. Daiz was one of the officers leading the charge into the crowd of journalsits.
Within minutes police came into the crowd of journalists, who were still backing up in compliance with police orders, while photographing the scene in front of them.