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More Journalists Beaten, Arrested by NYPD while Covering ‘Occupy Wall Street’ Protests

Today there were many new reports of more journalists being brutalized and arrested by New York police for trying to do their jobs and cover the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ protests.

According to the Huffington Post, reporters have been taking to the airwaves and social media sites like Twitter with tales of police brutality directed against them and other members of the press.

RT reporter Lucy Kafanov was struck with a police baton while attempting to film today’s demonstrations, despite the fact that her press credentials were clearly visible to officers. Kafanov witnessed a reporter from IndyMedia getting “slammed against the wall” and arrested. Other reporters described similar incidents of police brutality against members of the press as well as protesters.

“It does not seem police are making a distinction between press and protesters,” Kafanov is quoted in the Huffington Post.

DNAInfo editor Julie Shapiro tweeted: “The NYPD just slammed a barricade into a photographer.”

Michelle Fields and Direna Cousins of the conservative Daily Caller also found themselves under police attack. “The police officers were beating the protesters with batons, and were also beating the media,” Fields told the Daily Caller. “They hit Direna and me with batons. They hit other members of the press in order to get them to move out of the street.” Once again, “clear indications” that the pair were journalists meant nothing to NYPD officers.

“Direna had a camera in her hand and I had a microphone, and we were being hit,” she told the Daily Caller. “When I fell to the ground I said at one point, ‘I’m just covering this! I’m covering this!’  And the officer just said, ‘Come on, get up, get up,’ before pulling me up by my jacket.’”

“The protesters came up to me right away and asked if I needed any medical assistance. They were actually very kind and helpful. It was the police officers who were very aggressive,” Fields told the right-wing website she works for.

Once again, reporters were barred from covering the protests, resulting in outrage from even arch-conservative Fox News. “That doesn’t sit well with me,” senior Fox correspondent Rick Leventhal, speaking of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s media blackout, fumed on “The O’Reilly Factor.” “We need to be down there to see what’s going on.” Host Bill O’Reilly agreed, but insinuated that Fox reporters could be in danger of attack by ‘Occupy’ demonstrators.

Today’s violent repression of press freedom was a continuation of similar tactics used against reporters early Tuesday morning as NYPD officers violently evicted the ‘Occupy’ protesters encamped at Zuccotti Park/Liberty Square in Lower Manhattan. Officers told reporters that “you’re not press tonight,” and any journalist who dared try to do their job and cover the eviction risked being beaten, attacked with chemical weapons and arrested. Both the Society of Professional Journalists and the New York Press Club condemned the blatant constitutional violations against and brutalization of reporters.

Some are calling for Mayor Michael Bloomberg to resign over his shockingly heavy-handed tactics against the press.  Dan O’Mahony wrote this on Salon.com:

The mayor of New York made an orchestrated attempt to blindfold the American people. The totalitarian implications of attempted media blackout are horrifying, the force employed against the media by its implementers was repulsive.

The mayor… has taken it upon himself to re-define the parameters of the First Amendment…  In attempting media blackout… Michael Bloomberg has said that his actions are not subject to the observation, assessment or judgment of those who put him in office. By moving in the dead of night and clearly attempting to do so while hidden from public view he has made clear that he sees himself not as a servant of the people but as their keeper. To put it bluntly, he has made it clear that BLOOMBERG HAS GOT TO GO.

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