MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
How do you put the First Amendment through a shredder, prevent media coverage and arrest and rough up journalists when you don't want the world to see what you are up to? The answer: become the mayor of New York.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg is not the only elected official who is suppressing a free press guaranteed in the Constitution. But he has best perfected the tin horn dictator art of physically obstructing journalists. Just look at the smashing of Occupy New York under the cover of darkness.
Using the "1984" excuse of "protecting" journalists, Bloomberg has allowed the New York Police Department (NYPD) free rein to prevent the Fourth Estate from being anywhere near questionable police activity. As a result, reporters have gotten roughed up and arrested for doing their jobs.
It's gotten so bad that The New York Times - normally deferential to Bloomberg - printed a November 25 editorial deploring the aggressive NYPD effort to suppress the reporting of, among other actions, the raid on Occupy Wall Street in Zuccotti Park. The Times was blunt in its outrage:
In many countries, using a camera or taking notes can get you into trouble. That is not supposed to happen in New York City. Yet as police cleared Occupy Wall Street protesters from Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan on Nov. 15, a number of journalists were roughed up and arrested. Many were prevented by police from documenting what happened that night ...
Before clearing tents and other structures from Zuccotti Park, for example, a police representative asked journalists in the area for press credentials. Reporters and photographers do not need credentials to be in a public area. The passes are supposed to give them better access, but those who admitted having passes were instead herded to a penned area blocks away from the police action.
At another spot closer to the park, police were carrying a protester covered with blood when a photographer raised his camera. When two police officers spotted the camera, they shoved a barricade into the photographer, screaming that he was not permitted to take pictures even though he was on the sidewalk.
In a chilling video, one courageous journalist tries to get the NYPD to allow him to do his job and report the news. Fortunately, the police did not have the "foresight" to intimidate the person recording the encounter.
It "is not supposed to happen in New York City," but it has - and the blame for tossing the First Amendment into a Big Apple trash can goes straight to the top: Mayor Bloomberg.