Los Angeles Police often create limited media pools for high-profile events, such as the Michael Jackson trial. But does the same kind of pool make sense for a police raid on Occupy?
Reporters and rights groups are calling LAPD’s decision to allow only select media at their raid on Occupy Los Angeles early Wednesday a restriction of free press. Blogger/reporter Ruth Fowler reported that police said they would arrest any reporter who showed up in the area who was not on their list. L.A. Weekly, who was not included on the pool list, called the move “bizarre,” “ironic,” and “constitutionally questionable.” The ACLU said that if LAPD didn’t lift its media restrictions, the rights group planned to file an injunction against them.
Restriction of the media by police during raids on Occupy protesters has been a recurring issue, including during the recent raid on Zuccotti Park. During that raid, NYPD effectively created a media-free zone around the action, keeping reporters out of the park and the airspace clear overhead. At the time, the hashtag #mediablackout became widespread on Twitter as journalists expressed their frustration.
on Wednesday, that hashtag was resurrected as the raid on Occupy Los Angeles began and all “uncredentialed” media were moved out of the area.
Other restrictions on the press were soon reported. Local station KCAL9, which was running an aerial live stream of the officers being deployed, reportedly stopped the stream because they had “made an agreement with LAPD not to reveal their tactics.” Those media who were allowed in to the park were told not to use their cell phones or tweet, according to L.A. Weekly. (Several reporters tweeted anyway, including NBC4's Antonio Castelan.) And KNX news radio radio said its reporter at the scene was “embargoed” from providing information until the eviction was over.
L.A. Weekly, which has posted 10 updates to their story on the media restriction, wrote Wednesday: “The whole thing smacks of L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's obsession with having the Occupy experience turn out swimmingly in his harmonious kingdom -- and of City Hall and the LAPD's utter incomprehension of media in the 21st century.”
Later Wednesday, it appeared the police were making their presence felt at other places around the city, including the University of California. The UC Student Association shared the following photo. Police were photographed arriving at UCLA ahead of a planned demonstration by students upset over the raid on Occupy.