The Occupy Wall Street Movement: The Arrest and Commentary of Reporter John Farley

by Laura VanVliet    /  November 5, 2011  / No comments

John Farley, arrested while reporting for MetroFocus Photo: © Sam Lewis of MetroFocus

Despite visible press affiliation, John Farley, a web editor and reporter for the NYC magazine MetroFocus, was arrested on September 24th at Union Square during an Occupy Wall Street demonstration. While Farley was attempting to conduct an interview with several protesters who were pepper sprayed, police corralled demonstrators with large nets, allegedly to remove them from a roadway. Farley was arrested with over 80 other protest participants and observers, including, he says, senior citizens and teenagers.

In an account of the arrest, Farley explains:

“When I saw the young women get pepper sprayed, I ran over to interview them. While holding a microphone and wearing a badge identifying myself as an employee of ‘WNET – New York Public Media,’ I found myself suddenly roped into one of the large nets. I was thrown against a wall and handcuffed with hard plastic zip-tie restraints.”

Farley was held in police custody for a total of nine hours where he continued his work by taking comments from others who were arrested.

Because MetroFocus is a relatively new publication with only about three months’ circulation, the magazine could not qualify for the NYPD’s allocated press credentials—an issue that Farley, and others, have brought into question.

In a statement citing citizen journalists’ effectiveness in covering OWS, and the mainstream media’s late, “dismissive” coverage, Farley explains that the journalists being harassed are doing the necessary groundwork for communicating the reality of the OWS situation:

“Occupy Wall Street didn’t really become headline news nationally or even locally until Sept. 24, the day of the first mass arrests near Union Square, where I was arrested while I was reporting, along with more than 80 protesters. And that only after citizens’ cameras captured the NYPD’s pepper-spraying and aggressiveness. That’s when Occupy Wall Street seemed to warrant a more attentive media analysis.”

Farley’s arrest is one of several that have happened to members of the press—including columnist and author Naomi Wolf. Other journalists have been beaten or pepper sprayed while covering OWS.

Now entering its third month after a sudden snow storm, OWS plans to remain in Zuccotti Park at least until winter. Reporting since the first day of the occupation, Farley and the MetroFocus team have continued to cover the events, including a report on the movement’s finances, and an interactive timeline

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