At an Occupy Wall Street protest of President Barack Obama's fundraiser in New York on Wednesday, members of the press say police kept them out of an area cordoned off for protesters, in conflict with Police Commissioner Ray Kelly's recent directive that cops not interfere with media. More than 100 protesters showed up at the Midtown Sheraton to register their frustration with Obama's policies, holding signs saying things like "Obama is a corporate puppet" and "War crimes must be stopped, no matter who does them," which The New York Times called "the Occupy protest’s most pointed criticism to date of the president." But not all reporters could get as close to the protest as The Times Matt Flegenheimer did, according to Gothamist, which reported that "after the protesters arrived near the hotel, they were suddenly penned in by police, told they were in a 'frozen zone' and not permitted to leave until after the president departed." Journalists trying to cover the protest were reportedly kept out of that zone:
Several reporters were kept away from the area by police, and MSNBC's Meg Robertson tells Capital New York, "I identified myself to a number of NYPD as a member of the press and they would not let me close to the penned in area."
Another journalist, Andrew Katz, says, "One officer actually said I could go into the kettle where the protesters were, but [another] officer grabbed my arm, and then [Harkinson], and said we had to leave the area. Three officers, including a female officer who gripped her arm around my hip, escorted us a block down to 52nd Street behind a set of barricades."
The police control of the press comes after NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly issued a directive to cops telling them not to interfere with media access to protests following complaints that reporters had been kept out of the Nov. 15 crackdown on Zuccotti Park. The Atlantic's Alexis Madrigal predicted on Wednesday, after Los Angeles police successfully controlled media during their own crackdown, that similar police control of the press at protests would spread.