The NYPD and other police departments received some international condemnation on Friday by the OSCE (Organization of Security Cooperation in Europe) for its treatment of journalists and protesters during Occupy rallies. The OSCE, of which the US is itself a part, surveyed various countries and their responses to freedom of assembly, and released a report in Vienna on Friday. The report concluded that the practices of kettling protesters and obstructing journalist access, among other actions, amounted to violations of human rights standards based on OSCE member country commitments.
The report, which importantly highlights that in dealing with freedom of the press, police ought not to make distinctions between credentialed journalists and citizen journalists, says this:
Restrictions on the activities of journalists such as the ones imposed during the eviction of the Occupy camps in Los Angeles and New York appear to have been imposed also with the purpose of limiting coverage by the media of these events. As such, they are not in line with relevant OSCE commitments and other human rights standards.
Read the full report here.
And read what a guest writer on this blog had to say about her experiences as a Muslim-American and a hijabi Occupy demonstrator when she was part of those rounded up by the NYPD.
Photo: A man is arrested during protests marking Occupy’s first anniversary this past September. Ramin Talaie/EPA.
On July 6, 2010, 10 days after the disastrous G20 summit, Toronto’s City Council voted to “commend the outstanding work of [police] chief Bill Blair, the Toronto Police Service and the police officers working during the G20 Summit in Toronto,” and thank them for a “job well done.” The vote was 36-0. The yeas included then-Mayor David Miller and many other left-wing luminaries. At this point in the G20 post-mortem, this seems a bit hard to believe.
We know much more now about how poorly the security operation was planned and executed: This week’s report from Gerry McNeilly, director of Ontario’s Office of the Independent Police Review, lays it out in painstaking detail. But what we knew 10 days later was bad enough: Thugs had wreaked havoc at will; 400 borderline-hypothermic people were held for hours in the pouring rain for no good reason; police cars were burned; journalists were roughed up and arrested; untold numbers of people were randomly and improperly searched and arrested.
Not much is hugely shocking about Mr. McNeilly’s findings. Mostly it is a much more detailed portrait of the events we already knew. But incident commander Mike Fenton’s justification for the infamous Sunday-evening “kettling” incident in the cold, pouring rain does stand out. He begins by describing the difficult job that police had in tracking and differentiating between peaceful “protesters” and so-called “terrorists.” But then, suddenly, they coalesce:
“On [Saturday, the day before,] the disorder activity was mobile through the downtown core; however, this mobility could not be matched by [police]. Mobility issues resulted in relative free reign for the terrorists to attack without opposition. Therefore the tactic of isolating, containing the movement of the terrorists/protesters was required to stop the ongoing attacks and prevent new attacks from occurring.” (My italics.) He goes on using that terminology for the rest of his statement. Anyone who wasn’t police was now the enemy.
“What I’ve seen in Canada is a system that presents barriers for the poor to access nutritious diets and that tolerates increased inequalities between rich and poor, and aboriginal non-aboriginal peoples,” Olivier De Schutter, the UN right-to-food envoy, said Wednesday.
“This is a country that is rich but that fails to adapt the levels of social assistance benefits and its minimum wage to the rising costs of basic necessities, including food and housing,” De Schutter said. Last year, he said, close to 900,000 Canadians were accessing food banks each month.