- On September, 17, 2011, US Day of Rage.org organized
protests in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, OR, and Austin,
- They hoped many more would follow, grow, and spread nationwide.
Indeed they have to over 1,000 large and small cities, towns, and communities.
- "We have had enough," they said. "Help
us reclaim democracy." Currently, many social justice issues drive
them. In response, police violence confronts them.
- Oakland Mayor Jean Quan admitted coordinating crackdown
efforts with counterparts in other cities.
- Examiner.com reporter Rick Ellis said an anonymous federal
official told him that "in several (late 2011) conference calls and
briefings, local police agencies were advised to seek a legal reason to
evict residents of tent cities, focusing on zoning laws and existing curfew
- They were also "advised to demonstrate a massive
show of police force, including large numbers in riot gear."
- Last October, Obama duplicitously said, "(W)e are
on their side."
- He's a serial liar. He solely supports wealth, power,
and imperial dominance. He deplores rule of law principles, democratic
values, and social justice. He's ravaging the world one country at a time
and waging war at home against dissent. His new indefinite military detention
law targets OWS, other like-minded activists, and anyone threatening US
- Washington began aiding cities confront OWS protesters
violently before it passed. FBI officials are involved on tactics and perhaps
directly. They advised that evictions be conducted late night or pre-dawn
when local press coverage is absent or minimal.
- Homeland Security's Federal Protective Service arrested
an Occupy Portland photographer. Moreover, federal and undercover police
provocateurs often disrupt public protests violently.
- Department of Defense training manuals call protests
"low-level terrorism." An FBI memo says peace protesters are
"terrorists." Throughout his tenure, Obama's destroyed human
rights and civil liberties than Bush II.
- Journalists are singled out and targeted. On January
7, Press TV said nearly 40 journalists have been arrested since September
protests began. In early January, technicians working for Global Revolution
were arrested for streaming live OWS protest video.
- Journalists have been harassed, arrested, handcuffed,
and beaten for doing their job. Free Press.net's Journalism and Public
Media Campaign Director Josh Stearns reported last November that 10 New
York-based journalists were violently arrested in an early morning raid.
- They were trying to cover Zuccotti Park evictions. Police
accused them of trespassing. They all had valid NYPD-issued press passes.
- In response, last November, New York-based journalists
formed the Coalition for the First Amendment. It consists of 13 membership
organizations representing mainly New York City journalists.
- International Press Institute (IPI) executive director
Alison Bethel McKenzie said:
- "This attempt by New York City authorities to hinder
the work of journalists reporting on a matter of vital public interest
is completely unacceptable. Journalists must be allowed to operate in a
climate free from harassment and intimidation - and above all, free from
the use of violence. We insist that the NYPD respect the rights of all
members of the media, who play an essential role in a health democracy."
- IPI, other groups, and First Amendment advocates expressed
concern about similar confrontations nationally. Earlier, IPI reported
journalist arrests in Oakland, Milwaukee, Tennessee, and student journalists
- Concerned New York Press Club members got involved. They're
now monitoring police/press relations on constitutional rights issues.
- On November 15, in an open letter to Mayor Michael Bloomberg
and Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, they protested police harassment
and arrests of reporters covering OWS protests. They urged investigations
and assurances these practices end. Nonetheless, they continue violently
against protesters, journalists, and others nearby.
- Mayor Bloomberg defends them disingenuously, saying it's
done "to protect members of the press." He also accused protesters
of "deliberately pursu(ing) violence." In fact, they're entirely
peaceful, even when rogue cops beat them.
- Nonetheless, Bloomberg claimed police "maintained
incredible restraint" despite video and witness confirmation of brutality.
- Police Commissioner Kelly also says future arrests will
be handled the same way. In response, Manhattan Borough President Scott
Stringer strongly condemned them. Calling them "outrageous,"
he said "Zuccotti Park is not Tiananmen Square."
- First Amendment Coalition (FAC) Activism
- Founded in 1988 as the California First Amendment Coalition,
its activities later went national. It's "dedicated to advancing free
speech, more open and accountable government, and public participation
in civic affairs."
- It's activities include:
- free legal help for journalists, activists, academics,
and others on First Amendment issues;
- "strategic litigation" for First Amendment
- educational and informational efforts through conferences,
books, and online material;
- "legislative oversight of bills affecting access
to government; and
- public advocacy through" op-eds and public appearances.
- Police Brutality 101
- On November 25, Naomi Wolf's London Guardian article
headlined, "The shocking truth about the crackdown on Occupy,"
- OWS protesters and journalists faced "unparallelled
police brutality" in coordinated nationwide crackdowns. Militarized
cops in riot gear beat, pepper-sprayed, and otherwise harmed nonviolent
men and women, young and old, workers and unemployed, veterans and opposing
off-duty police, and other joining them for social justice.
- "The National Union of Journalists (filed) a Freedom
of Information Act (FOIA) request to investigate possible federal involvement,"
including efforts targeting journalists.
- On November 21, even New York Times writer Michael Powell
commented in his article titled, "Reporters Meet the Fists of the
- "Over several days, New York cops have arrested,
punched, whacked, shoved to the ground and tossed a barrier at reporters
- While taking notes, AP and Daily News reporters were
arrested. So was a radio reporter recording material near Zuccotti Park.
- Post-9/11, "police have grown accustomed to forcibly
penning, arresting, and sometimes spraying and whacking protesters and
- In one of many incidents, police assaulted a photographer
for doing his job. They "ran at him, grabbed (a) barrier and struck
him in the chest, knees, and shins." Similar violence now occurs nationwide.
Protesters, journalists, and even public officials and distinguished figures
- In mid-November, rogue cops violently shoved New York
Supreme Court Justice Karen Smith against a wall. She represented the National
Lawyers Guild as a legal observer. She intervened to stop a mother from
being beaten. For her efforts, she was assaulted.
- A New York City council member was also beaten, and in
Berkeley, CA, police assaulted former US Poet Laureate Robert Hass with
- On January 2, Times writer Powell again commented in
an article headlined, "The Rules on News Coverage Are Clear, but the
Police Keep Pushing," saying:
- NYPD assaults on journalists continue. Reporter Ryan
Devereaux is "Exhibit 1A that all is not well. On Dec. 17," he
covered a Duarte Square protest. "A linebacker-size officer grabbed
(his) collar." His visible ID identified him as a reporter.
- Nonetheless, "(t)he cop jammed a fist into his throat,
turning (him) into a de facto battering ram to push back protesters."
- Devereaux yelled "I'm a journalist." The cop
yelled "Push, boys!" Brutality it continued. An AP photographer
- On New Year's eve, "a (police) captain began pushing
Colin Moynihan," a Times reporter. When he complained, he was threatened
with losing his press credentials.
- A Final Comment
- First Amendment rights and local regulations are clear.
Civil liberties lawyer Norman Siegel, State Senator Eric Adams, and two
others wrote Commissioner Kelly, saying:
- "The media will be given access as close to the
activity as possible, with a clear line of sight and within hearing range
of the incident."
- Instead, police assault and prevent reporters from doing
their job. Mayoral press representatives claim they act responsibly. One
spokesman told Powell:
- "It is impossible to say the reporters were not
breaking the law." In fact, they were doing their job responsibly.
According to Senator Adams who's also a retired police captain:
- "If the police and the mayor won't" observe
First Amendment rights and "follow their own rules, whose rules will
- And who'll defend private citizens, including journalists,
when federal and city officials abuse them?
- Angry but undaunted, social justice protests continue
because quitting's not an option.
- It can't be at a time America's headed for full-blown
tyranny too unacceptable to tolerate.
- Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at
- Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and
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