We already knew that NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg does not have a particularly high regard for the freedom of the press. He’s been having journalists barred from public places, beaten and arrested all fall. His latest attack on our constitutional freedoms was his attack yesterday on the apartment in Bushwick (Brooklyn) that had been serving as one of the main hubs for live-streaming videos of various Occupy Wall Street protests on the Internet.
The live stream has played a crucial role in the growth of OWS. I myself was watching the live stream – along with over 20,000 other viewers – the day the New York Police Department arrested more than 700 peaceful protesters on the Brooklyn Bridge this October 1. As mainstream journalists are barred from covering OWS actions – or else stay away because of the anti-OWS stance of their editorial boards – citizen journalists play an ever greater role in the movement, and it is now a commonplace at protests to see large numbers of protesters holding up cameras, iPads and laptops, recording the proceedings for either live-streaming or later posting. This is a crucial part of getting out the word about what we do. And doing so is perfectly legal.
Enter Mayor Bloomberg, who seems intent on suppressing the movement at all costs. He has been attacking it using all the prodigious bureaucratic tools in his arsenal. Earlier this week he attempted to shut down the General Assembly by evicting it from three different legal meeting places. And now he is sending the Department of Buildings to do his dirty work for him. On Jan. 2, Buildings inspectors posted a notice on the door of the building at 13 Thames Street claiming that conditions in the building are “imminently perilous to life.” Oddly enough, despite these ostensibly life-threatening conditions, residents of the other apartments in the building were left unmolested. Apparently the danger extended only to the apartment in which the live-streaming team had set up their laptops. Yesterday, six live-streamers who had continued their work in the studio were arrested in a police raid; there is no report yet of their release.
Details of the studio and raid can be found on the Global Revolution blog, where you can also read about other systematic Bloomberg/ NYPD attacks on the technology that brings you information on the Occupy movement. For updates on this latest raid and arrests, follow @GlobalRevLive on Twitter. And note the “donate” button on the Global Revolution TVwebsite. This might be a good moment to kick them a few.
And check out the excellent coverage of the story in the Atlantic Wire.