Membership

Photographers Join Civil Rights Lawsuit Against NYPD

By / Oct 25, 2012 News media are blocked by NYPD officers from covering arrests of Occupy Wall Street protesters in Zuccotti Park on March 17. (photo by Andrew Katz/Flickr)

The National Press Photographers Association cites numerous violations of civil rights during the Occupy Wall Street protests.

During the Occupy Wall Street protests in New York City, news photographers have often been on the front lines, getting arrested and taking blows along with the protesters.

Now, the association that represents many of those photographers is joining a major lawsuit.

The National Press Photographers Association, which represents 7,000 members nationwide, has joined the case as a plaintiff, along with five elected officials and a dozen journalists.

The lawsuit, filed by a group of civil rights attorneys — including Leo Glickman, Yetta G. Kurland, and Wylie Stecklow — targets alleged police misconduct during the protests and asks for federal monitors to keep an eye on the NYPD. The suit also names the city, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the Metropolitan Transit Authority, Brookfield Projects, and JP Morgan Chase — which it cites for the $4.6 million donation the company gave to the NYPD in 2010.

Why should journalists be subjected to trauma-inducing harassment on the job?

Among the individual journalists joining the suit are NPPA member Stephanie Keith, who was recently named Newswoman of the Year by the the Newswomen’s Club of New York.

“I joined this lawsuit because, as a working journalist, I’ve been arrested, thrown to the ground, hit with batons, and yelled at by the NYPD while doing my job on assignment,” Keith said, according to a press release [PDF]. “I have seen my fellow journalists being treated this way as well. Why should journalists be subjected to trauma-inducing harassment on the job?”

The NPPA has made the NYPD’s treatment of protesters one of its key issues. The group, along with number of other publications and associations, recently sent a letter to Commissioner Ray Kelly in an effort to improve relations between the press and the police. The group noted a September 17 incident in which police “interfered with, assaulted, detained, and in some cases arrested members of the media who were on a public street covering the anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street protests.”

Almost 8,000 people have been arrested worldwide during the Occupy protests — including 185 last month in New York on the anniversary of the initial protest — according to OccupyArrests.com.

Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. More »

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