Call Your Mayor: Stop the Journalist Arrests

After 10 journalists were arrested during the Nov. 15 NYPD raid on Occupy Wall Street, there was a flood of attention focused on press freedom issues. Articles were written, meetings were held and about a week later the NYPD issued a formal order telling its officers to stop interfering with the press. It felt like real momentum.

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However, since that date six more reporters covering the Occupy movement have been detained. A total of 32 journalists spanning 10 U.S. cities have been arrested since the movement began. One of those journalists, freelancer Carla Murphy, was arrested by NYPD this past weekend. Murphy was covering a small gathering of Occupy the Bronx when police surrounded the group.

 

She wasn’t standing anywhere near the protesters and in this video you can hear her tell the officers she is a journalist. This wasn’t a case of a journalist getting swept up in the midst of a rowdy protest; this was an intentional arrest in which the officers disobeyed the order not to interfere with the press (earlier in the video the police are seen harassing another reporter who is present with her camera crew).

A remarkable number of these journalist arrests have been captured on video. It’s infuriating to watch the First Amendment so casually trampled on, over and over. When you think about it, it’s outrageous that we need someone monitoring journalist arrests here in America. So far 40,000 people have signed our petition calling for mayors to rein in these police actions, and calling on them to defend freedom of the press.

The good news, though, is that the outcry against this assault on the First Amendment is starting to be heard:

Rep. Nadler specifically rejected the notion repeated by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and others that restricting media access “protects” members of the press. Nadler noted in his letter that if journalists can “enter war zones to inform the American people,” they should be allowed to cover news events here at home without interference.

Today we are putting down our pens and picking up the phones. If 40,000 petition signatures don’t send a message, then it’s time to make some calls. Our mayors need to take responsibility for the press crackdown happening in their cities. We are launching a call-in campaign asking people in cities around the U.S. where journalists have been arrested to call their mayors.

If you want to make a call, please click the links below for contact information:

Atlanta, Ga.: 3 journalists arrested

Boston, Mass.: 1 journalist arrested

Chapel Hill, N.C.: 3 journalists arrested

Los Angeles, Calif.: 2 journalists arrested

Milwaukee, Wis.: 1 journalist arrested

Nashville, Tenn.: 3 journalists arrested

New York City: 17 journalists arrested

Oakland, Calif.: 1 journalist arrested

Richmond, Va.: 1 journalist arrested

Rochester, N.Y.: 1 journalist arrested

Please take a stand for the First Amendment. Make a call to your mayor today. To ensure the message gets through, we’re hoping to generate 100 calls to mayors for each journalist arrested. That’s more than 3,000 calls. Pick up the phone and help us get there.

Photo credit: Daniel2005 via Flickr

People + Policy

= Positive Change for the Public Good

people + policy = Positive Change for the Public Good