OPC Letter to NYC Mayor Bloomberg

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United States

The Hon. Michael Bloomberg
Mayor of New York
City Hall
New York NY  10013

Dear Mr. Mayor:

The Overseas Press Club of America, based in New York, deplores the attempt by your police to prevent the press, as well as legal observers, from witnessing the removal of demonstrators from Zuccotti Park on Tuesday morning, as well as the arrests and mistreatment of reporters who tried to approach the park.  According to the Committee to Protect Journalists and Reporters Without Borders, at least six journalists were arrested, some of them despite showing press passes issued by the NYPD; two were held for as much as four hours.  Several others said they had been forcefully ejected from the park.  One of them was seen being choke-held by an officer.

While we do not question the need to clear Zuccotti Park, we do question your policy of keeping the press at a distance. The police had been instructed in advance to keep the press away, and you yourself said the media were banned "to prevent a situation from getting worse and to protect members of the press."  Mr. Mayor, that is a protection journalists neither seek nor welcome. 

As one who has often defended the freedom of the press – indeed, who has benefited enormously from that freedom – you surely see the need to allow the press to witness actions such as the clearing of Zuccotti Park.  It was an event of major public concern, and the citizens of New York have a right to know how their police officers behave toward demonstrators who have been overwhelmingly peaceful, however noisy, persistent and disobedient of the statutes.  By extension, your government has no right to bar access to journalists, who serve as the eyes and ears of the public on such occasions.

The OPC has been defending the rights of journalists around the world for seven decades, but it is seldom that we have to do so within the United States.  We regret that we are compelled to write this letter to the generally beneficent mayor of a city that is a beacon of freedom.

Very truly yours,
Jeremy Main
Larry Martz
Freedom of the Press Committee

cc:

The Hon. Raymond Kelly
Police Commissioner of the City of New York
One Police Plaza
New York, NY 10038

Attorney General Eric Holder
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530-0001

The Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo
Governor of New York State
NYS State Capitol Building
Albany, NY  12224

Maria Otero
Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street, N.W.
Washington, DC  20520

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