December 17, 2011 Occupy Wall Street teams up with artists, musicians and faith leaders to demand a space for public expression and to seek sanctuary in an unused lot owned by Trinity Church, an institution that has shown support for the movement despite its strong ties to Wall Street. Episcopal Bishop George Packard is the first to scale the fence, and is arrested along with fellow occupiers. Reverend Lawson, a leader of the Civil Rights movement, urges the protesters to keep “treading water” because the country needs them. Music from Dean and Britta, live from WBAI studios.
Independent journalist John Knefel, who was just released after being held for 37 hours by the NYPD for Live Tweeting on Monday, December 12th during an OWS protest at the World Financial Center’s Winter Garden, has written a must-read account at Salon:I barely had time to say no to the mustachioed White Shirt before he grabbed my forearm and threw me to the ground. As he brought me down I transferred my smartphone – which I had been using to document the NYPD’s aggressive arrests following the impromptu celebration in the Winter Garden on Dec. 12 – to my left hand and then my pocket. The website Boing Boing posted a very dramatic photograph of me holding my glasses while police pile on top of me. I’ve been covering Occupy Wall Street as an independent journalist for its entirety as a radio show host, for Salon, and on the ground.
And here is the video of his brutal arrest – which, remember, was for Tweeting.
Int he video linked below, you can see a further reminder of how our press’ freedom – nay, the 1st Amendment itself – continues to be suppressed.
The video depicts Robert Stolarik, on assignment for The New York Times, being physically hounded, blocked and harassed as he tries to photograph a series of arrests taking place in the background.
These incidents are just further examples of a continuing trend: police across this country freezing out the media and ILLEGALLY suppressing press coverage of public protests. As David Carr in the New York Times notes:Back in November when New York police officers pushed protesters out of Zuccotti Park, many reporters were physically prevented from covering the events, ostensibly as a way to keep them safe.
There was significant push back from the press. A letter was sent to New York officials by a number of press organizations, The New York Times among them, charging that the police action had violated “N.Y.P.D. policies and procedures as concerns the media.”
Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly responded on Nov. 23 by sending an internal memo to his department ordering them not to impede members of the press and warning that those who did would be subject to disciplinary action.
It seems that internal memo was never, um, delivered.
As you can see in the video, and as Stolarik himself notes in the Village Voice, hispress credentials are clear. There is no confusion. There is no misunderstanding. There is only a willful attempt to keep our press from recording the way in which Occupy Wall Street protesters are treated.
As our wealth continues to be drained by those corporations which have bought our Congress and crafted legislation benefiting the 1 percent (to the detriment of everyone else), our freedoms are beginning to be drained as well.
To echo Dylan Ratigan, there is an extraction underfoot in this country. We are being extracted. Not just our money, not just our capital. But our rights. Our protections. The very essence of our citizenship, our peoplehood.
It is this simple: a country without a wholly free press, a country with a press that is censored and suppressed by the authorities, is a police state.
Nothing more. Nothing less.
Are their gradations? Are there shades? Sure. Fine. Of course. But really? Is that how we are to defend such actions? To say, Well, at least this isn’t Syria.
To defend our country in such a way is to demonstrate just how far we’ve fallen.
Three members of Occupy Tulsa chained themselves to a handrail outside the Tulsa City Hall on Wednesday morning to protest what they said were misguided efforts by the city to silence them.
The protesters set up outside the building’s main entrance at 175 E. Second St. just after 8 a.m., and City Hall security guards called Tulsa police shortly after. Police began enforcing the park’s 11 p.m. curfew on Nov. 2.
At about 8:30 a.m., the protesters, who identified themselves as Samuel Molik, Eli Silva and Adam Smith, sat just outside the handrail and held up signs as a handful of onlookers and other protesters stood around them.
Police stood by until about 9:15 a.m. and then left. The protesters said they planned to stay in rain or shine and would even sleep there. People have agreed to bring them food, they said.
One protester said they will stay “as long as it takes” to convince city officials to let them protest freely at downtown’s H.A. Chapman Centennial Green.
Occupy Port of Portland on December 12th (D12)
photos via Occupy Online, USA Today
Updates for #d12 #westcoastportshutdown #occupytheports
Dec. 8, 2011
“from Occupy Boston:
This morning, Mayor Menino issued a midnight deadline for Occupy Boston to leave the Greenway. The articulated threat of eviction is a clear and present danger to the community we have built over the past ten weeks. We came to Dewey Square to practice true democracy and give visibility to injustice; we came to see if we could not–in providing for basic needs–maintain a standing indictment against their enforced deprivation within our broader community. With this commitment came hard evidence of economic suffering, evidence that we present at the doorstep of the Federal Reserve along with our democracy, our songs and our chants that echo daily through the financial canyon. Today, the city threatens that community. It threatens the library, where we hold our classes and discuss ideas. It threatens our food tent, which has served thousands of people many more thousands of meals. It threatens our medical tent, which has provided treatment and care to the sick and to the injured. Not only these, it threatens the lives of those of us who have no place else to go. The city has cited concern for our safety as the reason for forcing us back into the streets. But make no mistake; the city’s concern for our safety will disperse when we do. We have therefore taken steps to ensure the safety of the infrastructure we have built, and to protect the most vulnerable among us in the event of the eviction. We are taking down the food tent, the medical tent, packing up our logistics supplies for safe-keeping and working with social service providers and other allies to secure shelter for our brothers and sisters most likely to experience homelessness if and when the city throws away their tents. We take action–today and always–in the name of economic and political justice, freedom of expression and our entire community.”
For IMMEDIATE RELEASE
5:50 PM 12/5/2011
Civic Plaza in Murfreesboro, TN, a public forum and a public space, has been surrounded by 8 police cars blocking the walkways, entrance ways, and the public parking garage. The police have erected at least 4 large spotlights directed on the plaza in a blatant attempt to stifle the peaceful assembly of Occupy Murfreesboro by using fear and repression. The overwhelming response of local law enforcement to a peaceful protest gathering speaks volumes to the power of the Occupy movement.
Occupy Murfreesboro condemns the use of such measures which directly affect the ability of citizens to exercise their right to assemble peacefully and ask for redress of grievances. The City of Murfreesboro should acknowledge their actions as an aggressive statement which belittles the rights of citizens to freely express themselves. Occupy Murfreesboro encourages all citizens to claim their right to engage in free speech and to Occupy public spaces using peaceful techniques to have their voices heard by government.
Occupy Murfreesboro intends to Occupy the Civic Plaza tonight despite the intimidation and efforts of local law enforcement and government to interfere with their constitutional rights.
We are the 99%. And So Are You. Join Us.
A short video documenting Occupy Wall Street in NYC.
Footage from Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Editing by Ryan Patrick
Raw footage and additional clips from Joseph Gordon-Levitt:
December 3, 2011 — Walker Prettyman, 15, was injured during the Occupy Portland protest in Shemanski Park. According to Prettyman, a police officer hit him in the face with his riot stick.