The National Press Photographers Association along with 13 other media outlets have penned a letter to New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly denouncing incidents in which members of the press have been wrongfully detained by the police.
The letter, written by General Counsel Mickey Osterreicher, reads in part:
It is our strongly asserted position that while the press may not have a greater right of access than
the public, they have no less right either...Given these ongoing issues and incidents we believe that more is needed in order to improve police-press relations and to clarify the ability of credentialed and non-credentialed journalists to
photograph and record on public streets without fear of intimidation and arrest. Therefore, we urge you meet with us once again so that we may help devise a better system of education and training for department members starting from the top down.
The letter follows numerous clashes between media officials and police, including the August arrest of New York Times photographer Robert Stolarik, who was filming on assignment in the Bronx when police asked him to cease taking pictures.
Despite presenting his credentials, Stolarik said he was dragged to the ground and kicked by NYPD officials.
The NYPD defended police actions and said the photographer was resisting arrest and obstructing government administration.
The NPPA's latest letter says although the department eventually gave back Stolarik's camera equipment, the charges against him remain.
During the height of Occupy Wall Street in 2011, several media organizations and civil liberties groups condemned the NYPD for intentionally blocking coverage of their overnight raid on Zuccotti Park.
In what is now referred to as the Occupy Wall Street "media blackout," numerous journalists prominently wearing press credentials were arrested. Multiple accounts of aggressive and even violent conduct also reportedly ensued.
In response, Kelly sent a department-wide memo reminding officers not to interfere with journalists.