The New York Police Department is drawing fire for saying that stories of multiple journalist arrests during the height of the Occupy Wall Street protests are a "myth."
Paul Browne, a top spokesman for the NYPD, made the comment during an interview with the local Queens Chronicle. He said that only one reporter was arrested. In the interview with him was Ray Kelly, the commissioner of the NYPD:
Kelly also said the NYPD was unfairly criticized over its removal of protesters from Zuccotti Park last year, saying the people who were arrested had defied legal orders to leave the park and were pushing through police lines after monitoring department radios to learn what officers were planning.
Paul Browne, the deputy commissioner for public information, who accompanied Kelly to the interview, added that only one journalist was arrested during the operation, despite stories to the contrary, which he called "a total myth." Occupy Wall Street protesters were forging press credentials in an effort to get through the police lines, he added, but that doesn't mean actual reporters were arrested.
Unfortunately for the two men, there is a long paper trail thoroughly documenting the arrests of journalists during the Occupy protests. Media outlets -- including The Huffington Post -- closely tracked reports of the arrests during the raid on Zucotti Park in mid-November. Josh Stearns, a member of media reform group Free Press who has been the lead authority on the treatment of reporters during Occupy, counted at least 11 journalists who were arrested that day, including reporters from the Associated Press, Agence France Presse, and Vanity Fair.
Moreover, as the New York Observer pointed out, Mayor Bloomberg's own spokesman conceded at the time that at least five journalists had been arrested during the raid.