It seems Mayor Bloomberg still gets a bit pissy if you question him about his perfect handling of Occupy Wall Street: during his weekly radio appearance this morning, Bloomberg was asked about the November raid on Zuccotti Park, during which several reporters were arrested and others were forcibly removed from the park. Bloomberg insisted that there was no media blackout during the early morning raid: "We didn't keep anybody from reporting, you just had to stand to the side. You don't have a right as a press person to stand in the way just in the interest of getting the story...the police [showed] amazing restraint. This is the greatest police department in the world. The number of times police fire their weapons here is so much less than any other police department."
We reported at the time of the raid that an NPR reporter, a New York Times reporter, and a City Councilmember were all arrested. A New York Post reporter was allegedly put in a "choke hold" by the police, an NBC reporter's press pass was reportedly confiscated, and some reporters and protesters were hit with pepper spray during skirmishes with police after the eviction. Bloomberg claimed at the time that reporters were only asked to "stand to the side"—it may have been literally true, but many reporters said the "side" in this case was so far away from the park that reporting the eviction in any serious way proved seriously difficult.
Later, the Society of Professional Journalists condemned the city's actions and said the Mayor's efforts insinuated what "would seem to be a strategic decision to cloak potentially volatile police activity from the public." Capital New York argues that the relationship between the press and the NYPD was deteriorating way before Zuccotti Park.
Earlier this week, U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder asking for an investigation of the NYPD and law enforcement outlets in other cities "to determine whether the unlawful use of force, or the unlawful targeting of individuals based on their participation in constitutionally protective activities, occurred." Nadler cited reports that "the NYPD aggressively blocked journalists from reporting on the incident, and in some cases, targeted journalists for mistreatment." He also repeats the claim that "the City reportedly close the airspace above the area in order to prevent news helicopters from recording the actions." (This has since been disproven.)
Bloomberg responded to Nadler's investigation with sarcasm: “If he would spend more time getting us homeland security money, maybe he’d make the streets safer,” the mayor said, according to the Times. “If he could get us more federal moneys, maybe we could make our schools better and we wouldn’t have some of the things that people are protesting against.” Nadler was none too amused by the Mayor's tone in his attack:
It is precisely my job, as the ranking member on the House Judiciary’s Constitution Subcommittee, to ensure that the constitutional rights of all Americans are respected. And it is precisely the job of the U.S. Department of Justice to ensure that alleged violations of those rights are investigated, and that federal civil rights laws are vigorously enforced.
It is the mayor’s job, I might point out, to ensure that the Police Department, under his command, obeys the laws and respects the rights of all New Yorkers...Perhaps the mayor should review his own past comments lauding my success in securing needed federal funds for our city — from the $20 billion post-9/11 monies to the Zadroga Act to critical transportation funding — before spewing nonsense and so wildly contradicting himself.