The NYPD's surprise late-night eviction of Occupy Wall Street from Zuccotti Park last week was executed quickly, with reporters kept out of sight of the park "for their safety." Also for journalists "safety," the airspace in Lower Manhattan was closed to news choppers by the NYPD [UPDATE: This is now disputed], a New York Post reporter was allegedly put in a "choke hold" by the police, a NBC reporter's press pass was confiscated, and a large group of reporters and protesters were hit with pepper spray. But after all the credentialed press had been shooed away from the park, one gutsy activist stood her ground to document the eviction. As she repeatedly informs the cops in this video, she knows her rights:
Barbara Ross, the Time's Up! activist who made the video, was ultimately forced to join the press behind barricades on Trinity Place, where there was no clear view of what was happening in Zuccotti Park. Ross tells us she stood there for about two hours, defying repeated orders to disperse. "I don't know why they didn't arrest me," she says. "I was so angry at what was going on around me I decided I was needed to be there to document this outrageous, illegal, unjust action orchestrated by Bloomberg and Kelly, and would do anything needed to get it on video. Finally I was physically pushed by a couple of female officers into the press pen."
So for a couple of hours at least, Ross displayed some of the mettle that many "objective" and obedient career journalists seemed unable to muster that night. NY Times columnist Michael Powell writes today that even reporters who secure the difficult-to-obtain NYPD press credentials may be deliberately targeted by the NYPD:
A police pass has become a ticket for a quick removal. My Times colleague Colin Moynihan stood on that darkened square last Tuesday morning when a police spokesman shouted, “Who has press credentials?” Many reporters and photographers dutifully raised their hands. With that, the police removed the “credentialed” reporters, under threat of arrest, to a press pen, out of sight of the square. Only shouts and yells could be heard.
So in a city where professional reporters are treated with brazen contempt by the NYPD, it's no surprise that citizen journalists like Ross are stepping in to fill the void. You don't need press credentials to stand your ground, turn on your cell phone camera and press record—you just need guts.
UPDATE: It's worth noting that Moynihan, the Times reporter cited above, was one of the few (perhaps the only) credentialed reporters who managed to remain in the park during the eviction. You can read his vivid account here. A reporter for Mother Jones also stuck around, and got some great stuff.