News organizations complain about treatment during protests

The New York Times reports: A cross-section of 13 news organizations in New York City lodged complaints on Monday about the New York Police Department’s treatment of journalists covering the Occupy Wall Street movement. Separately, 10 press clubs, unions and other groups that represent journalists called for an investigation and said they had formed a coalition to monitor police behavior going forward.

Monday’s actions were prompted by a rash of incidents on Nov. 15, when police officers impeded and even arrested reporters during and after the evictions of Occupy Wall Street protesters from Zuccotti Park, the birthplace of the two-month-old movement.

At a news conference after the park was cleared that day, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg defended the police behavior, saying that the media were kept away “to prevent a situation from getting worse and to protect members of the press.”

The news organizations said in a joint letter to the Police Department that officers had clearly violated their own procedures by threatening, arresting and injuring reporters and photographers. The letter said there were “numerous inappropriate, if not unconstitutional, actions and abuses” by the police against both “credentialed and noncredentialed journalists in the last few days.” It requested an immediate meeting with the city’s police commissioner, Raymond W. Kelly, and his chief spokesman, Paul J. Browne.

The letter was written by George Freeman, vice president and assistant general counsel for The New York Times Company, and signed by representatives for The Associated Press, The New York Post, The Daily News, Thomson Reuters, Dow Jones & Company, and three local television stations, WABC, WCBS and WNBC. It was also signed by representatives for the National Press Photographers Association, New York Press Photographers Association, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, and the New York Press Club.

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