As the Occupy movement protesting against social and economic inequality rumbles on and spreads across the world, journalists covering the protests are facing increasingly negative treatment from the police, particularly in New York.
Freelancer Natasha Lennard, John Farley of MetroFocus magazine and Kristen Gwynn, freelancer with news websiteAlterNet, were all arrested in the earlier stages of the movement, whilst a cameraman and a journalist from Fox 5 were both assaulted. All three were arrested because they didn’t have the correct press cards.
Since August 2010, the responsibility to issue press cards in New York lay with the police department. A wide range of restrictions are in place to determine who qualifies as a journalist. To be granted press accreditation, a journalist must have published or broadcast breaking news at least six times in the past year, and without a press card, they cannot cover the protests.
Two other reporters have been assaulted during their coverage of the protests. Cameraman Roy Isen, of Fox 5, was pepper sprayed in the face, and his colleague, reporter Dick Brennan, was hit with a police baton.
Rumours are suggesting that anyone with a camera is being targeted by the police force, including professional and citizen journalists, hampering coverage of the protests. NYPD have denied those with cameras are being singled out.
The Occupy movement has adopted the slogan “we are the 99%”, noting the difference in wealth with the top 1 percent of earners in the USA. The protests began in New York on 17 September and have become referred to as “951 cities in 82 countries”, having spread across the world to cities including Reykjavík, Amsterdam, Auckland and Kuala Lumpur.