Observations of a Jailed Journalist

| September 27, 2011 6:00 AM video


MetroFocus Web Editor John Farley, kneeling, was arrested while reporting on the Occupy Wall Street protest. Farley was working on a story about citizen journalism at the time. MetroFocus/Sam Lewis.

On Sept. 24, while working on a story about citizen journalism for my employer, I found myself arrested, along with many other people. My arrest gave me a unique vantage point on the risks and rewards of citizen journalists, those non-professionals who capture stories (usually without pay) using videos and images via portable technology like a cell phone camera. Anyone, even a passerby or a police officer can be a citizen journalist. That’s its power.

Here’s what happened.

My colleague Sam Lewis and I had previously covered Occupy Wall Street, an ongoing demonstration against economic inequality, on the first day it began, Sept.17.

Throughout that day we noticed many protesters using their mobile devices to document their own experience, sometimes for themselves or their own blogs, sometimes to share with bona fide media organizations. So, midday this past Saturday, Sept. 24, we headed to Union Square, where the Occupy Wall Street protesters had marched that morning from Lower Manhattan.

When we first arrived on the scene, protesters were marching along the sidewalk in unison, chanting. There was no sense of chaos. Many held video and audio recording devices, including camera phones.

In a sudden burst of urban chaos, how can the police distinguish between passersby and protesters who may be  committing civil disobedience or any other type of punishable offense? Or between citizen journalists and professional journalists?

However, the stream of protesters did disrupt traffic. Pedestrians wove in and out of the mass of protesters, some on their way to do Saturday errands, others who joined in for a block or two, chanting with the masses.

Sam and I were on the sidewalk observing the action. She was taking photographs, while I was juggling my reporter’s notebook and the audio recorder we’d brought along to interview protesters about how they were using media throughout the day.

    As more people spilled into the street, police started to demand that protesters stay on the sidewalk. But as people seemed to be retreating from harm’s way, police began pushing the protesters. I saw police use large nets to corral people en masse. I watched as police pepper sprayed several young women in the face. (An NYPD spokesperson confirmed the use of pepper spray to MetroFocus.) I saw senior citizens and teenagers get arrested. I saw about 20 or 30 police officers tackle people and prod them roughly with police batons.


    Video of the young female protesters against whom MetroFocus reporter John Farley saw the police use pepper sprayThe headlines for this video was chosen by YouTube. Youtube/TheOther99Percent.

    With nearly every arrest, the demonstrators called out for “cameras, cameras” — urging others to document the events — and chanted in unison “The whole world is watching! The whole world is watching!”

    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. I sat on the sidewalk with about 50 others. I yelled over and over “I’m press! I’m with WNET MetroFocus! Please do not arrest me.”

    I did not possess the press credentials that NYPD allocates to journalists. (As MetroFocus is less than three months old, neither I nor my journalist colleagues have yet met the NYPD’s qualifications.) So even though I work as a professional journalist, the NYPD lumped me in with everybody else.

    Lumped me in indeed. I was in police custody for nine hours, eight of which I spent in a jail cell at the 1st Precinct.

    An NYPD spokesperson told MetroFocus on Monday that 87 people have been arrested in total since the Occupy Wall Street protests began last weekend; however, the Daily News reported that at least 80 people were arrested on Sept. 24 alone, mostly on charges of disorderly conduct and obstructing traffic. The NYPD would not comment further on my arrest.

    Before we were all jailed, they took away everybody’s possessions, including our notebooks, pens, cameras, recording devices and mobile phones. We were separated by gender.

    My cellmates were about 35 other men. Most of them were protesters, with at least two bystanders who were snatched up while snapping souvenir photos in the afternoon mayhem. Most had spent quite a bit of time documenting the events of the day, including their arrests, with whatever media tools they had at their disposal.

    My cellmate JRL, who preferred to be identified only by his initials, is a 23-year-old Brooklynite. He identified himself as a citizen journalist who streams live footage through Twitter. “We like the terminology ‘grassroots media,’ where people in the march were literally marching with laptops and webcams so that they could live broadcast. I think it’s an immediate, never before possible edge,” said JRL. He was arrested while carrying his Canon 7D camera.

    Multiple videos from Sept. 24 show police arresting people holding cameras and audio equipment. An NYPD spokesperson told ABC News that the police were not targeting camera operators.

    I don’t know precisely why I was arrested, though I have been charged with disorderly conduct. But what I realized is that in a sudden burst of urban chaos, how can the police distinguish between passersby and protesters who may be committing civil disobedience or any other type of punishable offense? Or between citizen journalists and professional journalists?

    The arrest of my cell mate, Sam Queary, 24, adds another dimension to the issue: that of the inadvertent, spontaneous citizen journalist. Queary happened to be at work at Grey Dog Cafe near Union Square when the protesters marched by.

    “I heard a commotion and went outside to find cops macing women and arresting people and hitting people with nightsticks, so I started taking pictures,” said Queary. “I followed a young, black male as he was being accosted by five cops. As I tried to take a picture I was pushed away. I asked why I was pushed away and then the next thing you know I was being judo flipped.”


    Someone with a video camera documented John Farley’s cell-mate Sam Queary being “judo-flipped” by NYPD and arrested as he was photographing others being arrested. The video, shot by an unknown citizen journalist, has been widely broadcast and linked to by media outlets around the world. The headline for this video was chosen by YouTube. Youtube/LibertyPlazaRev.

    I also met Rosa A., 33, in the police van while we were being transported to the 1st Precinct for processing. She had been shopping at the Barnes and Noble on Union Square when she saw the protesters outside. As many New Yorkers do when they see something unusual, she snapped a picture. And she was arrested.

    “I’ve never been arrested,” said Rosa A., in visible pain from the plastic handcuffs. “I was just there looking at magazines.” She laughed, lightening the mood in the police van. Even our arresting officer, in the van with us,  chuckled.

    Between when the Occupy Wall Street protests began on Sept. 17 and this weekend’s wave of media coverage stemming from the arrests, the protesters have complained about being largely ignored by traditional media, including the major national and even metropolitan newspapers, the cable TV news channels and the local network news stations. Meanwhile, argue the protesters, similarly sized Tea Party demonstrations in recent years have received considerable coverage. The general consensus among the Occupy Wall Street protesters was that it was important to document constantly what is happening, and to present their own story when other media hasn’t.

    The protesters have also claimed that the media coverage they did receive painted them in an unflattering light and hasn’t accurately represented them. Saturday’s  New York Times article characterized the protesters as uninformed, mostly white hippies and trust-funded anti-capitalists. As a result, the protesters I spoke with were quite media savvy and conscious of their need to represent themselves in an attempt to legitimize their cause, which they’ve been doing on their website, on Twitter and on Youtube. In fact, they have an entire media team assembled at Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan, where about a dozen laptops are being powered by a portable generator, and citizen journalists are constantly uploading new footage.

    The Occupy Wall Street demonstrators have been criticized, including in the aforementioned New York Times piece, as unorganized and lacking in any concrete goals, other than to raise awareness about economic corruption.

    But as we all sat in a jail, I noticed an interesting thing happen.

    People began to talk very seriously about organizing in a more cohesive way than they have been. Jailhouse rookies, who had never been arrested or involved in radical political activities, listened attentively as experienced activists spoke about the need to set clear demands in order to rally broader public support for specific outcomes.

    I don’t know what’s going to happen to Occupy Wall Street as a movement. Maybe it will fizzle out, maybe it will grow. I do know that whatever happens will be documented. And I know that there’s a history of activist movements being bolstered when leaders and followers alike are jailed together.

    My cellmate Daniel Gross, a protester who volunteers as an organizer with the Industrial Workers of the World Union, helped create the first union for Starbucks employees.

    “I think the NYPD is really going to try to spin what happened today,” Gross told the group, as he handed out his contact information. “I think that we should organize our own press conference.”

    Around 10:30 p.m. the police began letting us leave our cell in groups of two. Before leaving, many traded contact information through smuggled business cards and contraband pens.

    The still-jailed cheered the newly free.


    • William Carleton (@wac6)

      Good reporting, thank you; please keep it up! Your piece also makes me think that maybe there should not be such a hard line drawn between “citizen journalists” and . . . not sure what to call the other kind of journalists – “professional,” let’s say.

      • Ellis Amburn

        Thanks, John Farley, for courage and first-rate reportage. Now that mainstream media’s in Wall Street’s pocket, the Woodsteins of Watergate fame are emerging from the ranks of citizen journalists–fortunately for us all.

    • flame821

      William, I think the difference is between journalists and reporters. Journalist investigate all sides of a story and write cohesive articles detailing the finer points, they uncover and report the good and the bad regardless of affiliation or ruffled feathers. Reporters simply parrot what they are told and never look deeply or critically at what they are regurgitating to the public. Mr. Farley is a journalist, Lauren Ellis is a reporter. Getting paid does not separate the two, some of the highest paid people in news are nothing more than reporters.

      • bigyaz

        You’re citing a non-existent distinction. Journalists are reporters; reporters are journalists. How well they do their job has nothing to do with what you call them.

      • Frank Capillo

        You can’t just make things up and pretend that they’re facts just to make a “point”

        • Rusty Stone

          Yes they can. Especially when we let them. Have you watched Fox News lately?

          • Pete Waziak

            As always, blame FoxNews..Find a new subject to talk about tool.

            • mr.m.

              a agree they’re easy to blame. but that doesn’t make him wrong, and neither does your name-calling.

      • drjimmy

        What difference does it make?!

      • sami

        You hit the nail on the head with that. We need more Journalist like Farley. Thanks Farley for your being so open minded and reporting the facts. Reporter on mainstream media have a bias opinion, so the truth will never come threw with them. Keep up the good work!

    • Bri

      Very well done.It is very reflective of the state of affairs in the US today.Perhaps these small journalistic steps can overcome the immense apathy that has a stranglehold on the majority of US citizens.Keep up your good work,you are desperately needed.

      • V. V. W.

        Bri, you’re absolutely right. The level of apathy in the US is shocking. Right now, I’d guess that not more than 15% of the population is aware that OccupyWallStreet is even going on.

    • cj

      You’re all idiots. This is martial law. Get with it and wake up.

      • PotatOS

        Nice try , Antony Bologna.

        • Angus

          No, I don’t think cj is coming at this from the Antony Bologna angle. If anything, directly in opposition. What Officer Bologna did was very much in keeping with an attempt to impose martial law, despite an official statement of it being imposed. As much support and goodwill as NYPD garnered in the wake of 9/11, they are quickly eroding that with their actions here. Whether the officers on the street are acting on orders, or simply have degenerated into a bunch of goons looking for any excuse to wield mace and club, I do not know, but either way the majority of the public needs to be made aware of their unprofessional behavior. The only thing which will cause this to stop is public outcry, and until it does stop, it is taking the focus away from the purpose of the protests. Maybe if the camera crews from C*O*P*S were there, they would behave themselves? Seems to work on the troopers the show rides along with, and you KNOW that the only reason those cops are as polite and tolerant as they are is because of the cameras.

      • Rusty Stone

        You are obviously not as old as I am. I’ve seen worse than this with my own eyes. There was an anti-Vietnam War protest on the very same spot 23yrs ago, and we got our asses kicked by, not only NYPD, but also construction workers. Meanwhile, the piggies were sticking their heads out of their office windows to throw tickertape and cheer the construction workers who were beating us up. Don’t delude yourself into thinking the public will take notice of this event alone. This is the beginning of a much larger battle that has been going on in our nation for more than my lifetime. Don’t give up on your country. We’ll eventually get it right, but it will take a lot of time, patience and persistance. Keep the faith my friend.

    • Christine

      This is very excellent. I’ll be honest when I said I hadn’t really been paying attention until the “shower them in champagne” comments were reported (http://goo.gl/xXG8c for reference) and the pepper spray to the face occurred. If I were anywhere near New York, now, I would be there.

      • Anchorite

        Christine…thanks for the ” shower them in champagne” link….
        truly enlightening…keep’em comng!!!!

    • HeadyJ

      Mr. Farley,

      I salute you for your courage and journalistic integrity. At a time when when media outlets and “journalists” are scrambling to ignore or demonize these protests, you not only covered them passionately and accurately but also pointed out the brutality and injustice visited not only on protesters but also on observers and even, perhaps especially members of the media. It is through true journalists such as yourself and the fearless members of the livestream media team that the 99% will prevail. Thank you again and please continue doing this morally and ethically important job.

      • Frank Capillo

        There’s no scrambling to ignore this at all. There’s no platform that the protestors have, so what is there to report? News outlets can’t waste air time everytime someone just wants to make noise.

        • mrman

          I am assuming this comment was made in jest? Have you watched any news in the last 15 years? “News outlets can’t waste air time every time someone wants to make noise”. Yes they can and they do. They just pick and choose depending on who this someone is and how much money/shock value they have, not how solid their “platform” is. Does Lindsey Lohan have a “platform”? Does American Idol have a “platform”? Do Nancy Grace’s nipples have a “platform”? Does Mel Gibson have a “platform” other than that he is a racist drunk? I could go on for days. If the major news media chose to spend their time on groups with strong “platforms” the ACLU, Amnesty International and Doctors Without Borders would lead the top stories in the news everyday. I don’t recall seeing much peace and justice being talked about on news outlets in the last 15 years but I do recalling seeing drunk bigots, greedy corporate “leaders” and corrupt, fake politicians leading news stories quite often. If you don’t think there is a shared platform among these protesters that is stronger than the bs I just mentioned then I suggest you go down to Liberty square and see for yourself because the major media outlets are going to continue to act befuddled and say “they can’t grasp what it is all about” and “there is no goal” and there is no ” clear leader” and there is no “apparent platform”. Because that’s how they have always treated social movements. If they do write about them early on it is to confound and irritate their readers and get as many people to dismiss it as possible so it will go away and then there will never be a need to understand or explain anything. During civil rights it was what could these colored people possibly want? Don’t they already have it good enough? Labor movement: They should be happy they have jobs, what could their platform possibly consist of further than wanting a job? Women’s Lib: They are already allowed the right work, no one seems to know quite what it is that they could want other than that… The journalist that wrote this article grasped their “platform” I assure you. Mainly because he was there reporting with courage, not at home with spectacles reading the “Iraq 100% for sure has weapons of mass destruction” NY Times to get his information. Social movements often prevail because they are much more powerful than the people sitting at home, the NYT and other major media, their disinformation, politicians, corporate money and power put together. In fact, there was a revolution in this country in 1776 that was more powerful than all those things put together. More than 40% of this country at the time was with the Royalists who had the power and money but history tells us that a movement of people coming together and MAKING NOISE with statements like “WE ARE NOT GONNA TAKE IT ANYMORE” was “platform” enough to create a powerful revolution of the system in order to honor and respect justice, freedom and liberty. Don’t be confused or scared of revolution, it has spawned some of the greatest movements and moments the world has ever known. It’s now time that one of those moments comes back around.

          • Anchorite

            AMEN brother…!!!!

          • Robinh

            GOD BLESS YOU. no one could have said it better. its obvious the person your responding to has been thoroughly brained washed into believing the disinformation that the msm puts out today. those who sit around and actually believe any and everything coming out of the msm are those who revel in living in denial. they are also the ones who have so much to say about others. one of the arguments i had on another site today is about the fact that these people are being labeled “trustfund babies” and “hippies” and when i posed the question of. well if they are trust fund babies then why exactly are they out their protesting? i mean according to all the posters these people are lazy bored good for nothings. and when i snapped back that at least they were not. THE ONE FALLING FOR THE HOOKEY. the forum lit up. the funny thing is the same people who are trying to degrade the movement and the people involved are also the ones who are constantly sitting behind their computers complaining about how no one from wall street went to jail for robbing us blind. and i stated why would they? what did any of you do to make sure they would get charged and indicted? oh i know you sat behind your computer complaining about it. again the forum lit up. these same idiots refuse to believe that the msm along with wall st and washington are owned by the world bankers. and the msm prints what they are told to print or they will be folded. “”We are grateful to The Washington Post, The New York Times, Time Magazine and other great publications whose directors have attended our meetings and respected their promises of discretion for almost forty years. It would have been impossible for us to develop our plan for the world if we had been subject to the bright lights of publicity during those years. But, the work is now much more sophisticated and prepared to march towards a world government. The supranational sovereignty of an intellectual elite and world bankers is surely preferable to the national autodetermination practiced in past centuries.” David Rockefeller, founder of the Trilateral Commission, in an address to a meeting of The Trilateral Commission, in June, 1991.

            • CAUI

              looks like martial law is not too far behind cival disobedoence. pepper spray the pigs. Redistribte the wealth. A commonwealth
              Shut down all fisson nuclear power plants. Stop fracking.
              Make student loans a right with no payback. Don’t fuck with mother ocean.

          • betsy shipley

            Excellent comment. We all know that if the tea party were there, the media would be all over them

            • mrbill

              If what you said was true, then why did all the media outlets incorrectly report how many people attended the 8/28/2010 rally in Washington D.C.? This isn’t even going into how the main theme of the rally wasn’t even mentioned, just who organized it. Now if you want to talk about sensationalism in the media, then I’d probably agree with you.

        • Demer

          The Tea Party did not have a consistent message for months and months, with each protest the press reported a wide range of complaints. Your point is irreverent. Even with a small turnout if this was a Tea Party event you better believe the news networks would be all over this. Whenever it’s an anti-business angled protest it seems to get largely blackballed by the media because, duh, most of the major networks are owned by large corporations and why would they give a narrative to a message that is bound to be against their interests?

        • Rusty Stone

          Forgive me if I disagree with you. If this was a Tea Party rally, thirty people would show up along with sixty reporters from the corporate, for-profit ‘news’ outlets to cover it. They would invest hundreds of hours of prime time towards it and they would promote it as a genuine grass-roots movement, despite the millions of dollars from Chamber of Commerse, AEI and other “pro-bussiness” groups.

    • Tom Hillgardner

      The time has come where it should no longer be the police in charge of issuing press credentials. Those rules worked fine in the 1950’s. In the New Media Age they are anachronistic. The reporter here is a professional working journalist. Police continue to deny press credentials to public access television broadcasters who have programs airing for more than 10 years. Now with Twitter and Facebook and YouTube who is to say anymore who is a “legitimate” jopurnalist? Certainly not the police who are hell bent in suppressing the truth and who are well served by the current regime of press credentials where they know they get to say who gets to report about the police.

    • Ray

      Remeber the current New York Police Dept. is also a “crack” anti-terrorist organization now, so being slightly heavy handed is now part of their mentality and trust and fair are not part of that training at all.

      They have been honed on fear, doubt, mistrust and suspicion far more then they were when it was just to “protect and serve” now it is to suspect and seize.

      In this case, With great power comes little accountiblity , since they are now elite and protected by the political agendas of the fear and chaos folks. (right wing media and leadership)
      The beltway media ignores you folks, because the reality undermines their presidential debate and their pre-scheduled manipulations of the debates and messaging they want to get out, via their media masters, who are in essence corporate funders of their own agendas, which do not include working class liberals who are just as bad as the “hippies’ of the 1960’s.

      Keep fighting, but remember your need to get national exposure and to do it ina NON-VIOLENT WAY are crtitcal.
      They will push you, they need unrest and chaos to keep this from growing.
      (refere back to the civil rights movement for your solutions.)

      • Amelia

        You are so RIGHT ON, Ray. Yours is a voice of reason.

    • Eric Jaffa

      I hope you sue for false arrest.

      • Juan

        Unfortunately, you cannot sue the police for jailing you without cause. Part of the way things were built. In fact, if the police ignores your right to due process and keeps you jailed for 48 hours without telling you what you’re being charged with, you still can’t sue.

      • Rusty Stone

        Please don’t be so naive to believe false arrest doesn’t occur on a daily basis in New York. Only when your objection to this is shared by the rest of us, will the neccessary changes happen. Ironically, those who proffess they “believe in the constitutions” are the very hypocrits who support this.

    • rosa adams

      Mr. Farley

      I been trying to get in contact with you. I wanted to know how you were doing after the arrest. I have pictures off my camera phone and don’t know what to do with them and they’re pretty powerful.

      Rosa A.

      • Oliver

        Hi Rosa- would you like to share the pictures with the rest of us? You could perhaps upload the flickr in low res or something?

    • Truth_Exposer

      No problem. This just stokes the fires of our true patriots to take back control of our country. And once we do, there won’t be a cop left outside of a concentration camp. A Pol Pot-style concentration camp…

    • Nikhil Sharma

      Look at you Johnny. You dun dun it boy.

    • radicalarchives

      “Industrial” Workers of the World, not “International” (that would be a tautology). Sorry you got snagged. ACAB!

      • Amanda

        Thank you Rob. Nice to see a little common sense added to all of this.

    • Rob

      Two points:

      1) The protesters do not have a permit. Property owners want them removed from the area. The police are urging the property owners to let the protesters continue.

      2) You don’t have press credentials. Period. Until you do, you are not “PRESS.”

      • Andy

        Because we’re not in a ‘designated free space zone’ amirite?

        1) A protest permit would never be issued for this in a month of mondays, despite the fact it is reasonable, peaceful and very necessary.

        2) Press credentials are just another way of validating ‘approved’ mouthpieces. Just another way of ensuring only the ‘right’ news gets broadcast.

      • Nick

        Sorry for you, Rob. Obviously the fear and authoritarianism in your blood runs deep. Don’t you have some kneepads and lip gloss to suss out for your next “board meeting”?

      • Republicrat


        We do not live in China or North Korea; one does not need a license to conduct journalism. It is, in fact, one of our sacred founding rights.

        We have a little document called the “Constitution”. Perhaps you have heard of it?

      • Robsasheep

        People like you are one reason why the country is in the shit hole it is, nothing but blatant stupidity and no common sense.

      • Tom

        How’s things at the brokerage today Andy? Screw and new old people yet today?

      • Zach Street Justice


        Just because the city denies someone a permit, doesn’t mean they are wrong in marching anyways. For example, in a famous civil rights case, MLK jr marched in alabama, despite being denied a permit to do so. The permit denial was later overturned as being an abuse of judicial discretion. Therefore, MLK jr was right in marching, even though he was denied a permit. Just because there is a law that says you can’t do something, doesn’t mean you should automatically obey it without question.

        • Amelia

          Aren’t you talking “Civil Disobedience” here? Great idea!

        • MLK

          I am not for or against this protest, but NY has also denied permits to the KKK from marching in lower manhattan and times were good. Permits are not handed down by God it just must fit in with City guidelines. And the NYPD has given “press” passes to smaller less known reporters and bloggers. Even Mr. Farley said their company was less then a month old. The police are just doing their jobs, even Mr. Fraley said “But what I realized is that in a sudden burst of urban chaos, how can the police distinguish between passersby and protesters who may be committing civil disobedience or any other type of punishable offense? Or between citizen journalists and professional journalists?” The NYPD asked for people to stay on the sidewalk and not block road way, I have walked in many Breast Cancer/Aids Events to know that is what is expected of a large crowd from the NYPD, parades with permits are asked to stay on within a metal border. People you need to stay on the matter at hand the governement and business leave the NYPD out of it.

      • Kyt Dotson

        Hails Rob, press credentials have no bearing on a person’s status as part of the press.

        They exist only to identify people that the NYPD policy may or may not be permitted to speak to about press-related matters and how to speak to them. The press, as contextualized within the Constitution, does not discriminate between people vetted by the NYPD and people not.

        According to the Constitution and all jurisprudence on the subject, the article writer here is “PRESS.”

      • Robinh

        and since when did protesting require a permit? again its idiots like you who don’t even realize that your enslaved to the government. your so brained washed that you don’t even realize that you ask them for permission to do any and everything. even down to getting married. and in case you don’t believe it here’s a break down for you.

        1. you want to get married ask the government for permission via a marriage license.

        2. you want to drive a car. ask the governnment for permission via a drivers license oh and fyi in case you havent noticed your no longer allowed to own a car either. they no longer give you the manufacturers deed to the car. just the title. and if you read that title carefully it says that ” YOU ARE BEING GIVEN PERMISSION. TO DRIVE SAID CAR”

        3. you want to work get a degree or certificate.

        4. you want to own a home fine you can own a home. and yet even after your mortgage is paid off. if you miss paying the taxes what happens? and if the government decides they want your property to build oh say a new nets arena what do they do? take your home away from you via eminent domain.

        5. you pay the cops salaries with your taxes which in itself is illegal but hey you also get to pay for the all the lawsuits that is getting ready to hit that precinct. isnt that just lovely. so in essence your now paying the cops to abuse you and be criminals themselves. point in fact i happened onto this site coming from a alternative news site that tracks and reports criminal cop behavior.

    • Integrity

      Thanks for your work and courage, John. Keep it up. We need you.

    • WukSoo

      Wow those cops are totally useless.


      • Rusty Stone

        Quite the contrary,to the bankers, the brokers and the traders, they are very useful.

    • genkidama

      “Smuggled business cards and contraband pens.”
      Has it really come to this? I realise Pens would be inappropriate in a jail cell, but the concept of the pen becoming a contraband item is incredibly poignant. Mightier than the sword and all.

    • nasby

      this article serves on so many levels. an amazingly great reporting job NOT done by a “bona fide” media outlet, in fact done while the NY MSM missed it totally. great story, and really one of the most disgusting incidences short of shooting New Yorkers that I’ve seen the NYPD be part of. sure hope more real media expose this gross abuse of power and misinterpretation of our constitution – talk about killing New York.

    • David

      Well the protestors were getting out of control with all the yelling and getting in cops faces, what do you expect to happen. Situations like that can quickly turn very violent and the cops know that and have to take action. If you guys simply marched without all the over the top yelling and posturing I doubt anything would have happend.

      • Neil

        That’s RIGHT! You might have a right to free speech but you don’t have a right to free yelling.

        • Robinh

          lol thank you for the laugh

      • JoeW

        Exactly. Remember, calm, orderly dissent has ALWAYS yielded fantastic results. oh wait…

        Let’s face it, staying quiet and respectful isn’t going to change anything. Getting angry does, forcing people to take notice. If this was a tea party rally, not only would there be yelling, there would be firearms.

    • Daniella


      this is amazing. Glad your ok, an amazing article and story!

    • Chris

      What’s really sad is that major news stations and metropolitan papers aren’t even attempting to cover this story accurately via journalism. They are just having drone reporters making ludicrous statements like “the protest is loosely organized and the protestors largely dont know the issues they are protesting about”. When did their integrity completely thrown out the window? The NY Times, like many others, is slipping. They arent providing news for their subscribers any more- the very people of New York. They are providing it for someone else… with deep pockets and loose ethics.

    • Saul Goode

      Seriously? You didn’t have the appropriate credentials and you’re crying because you were arrested?

      Get with it, man. Any schmuck with an inkjet can print up your so-called “credentials” and yell “I’m with the press!”. What did you expect the police to do … *believe* you?

      • abner

        you shouldn’t need any kind of special permit to take pictures or ask questions anywhere in public. What credentials should he need?

        • DensityDuck

          If that’s the case, then why is he insisting that he *is* a journalist? If that title has no meaning and carries no privilege then why claim it?

          • Joe Buck

            DensityDuck, he calls himself a journalist because he is a professional journalist who was working on assignment for his employer, New York City’s highly regarded public TV station.

            • Frank Capillo

              Are you serious???? You don’t need credentials? Then how are you supposed to know that the information presented is CREDIBLE?

            • Angus

              As stated above, the credentials ONLY are used to identify which of the press the police department is authorized to speak to. Press credentials are almost like a backstage pass, not a license to take pictures and ask questions; that is something anyone can do, except in restricted/classified areas, which Wall Street is neither.

      • Robinh

        sure and those just taking pictures with the phones also deserved to be arrested. the real shmuck is the one who posted that comment. yes im pointing dead at you. im sure you love living in a police state. don’t attempt to knock those of us with the heart to stand up and fight for their and our freedom. those of us with the brain to know and realize what is really going on in the world. and fyi unless your one of the elites your no better then the rest meanwhile you sit on your ignorant behind thinking your safe in a cocoon but you will also be the first one yelling when its to late to do anything. and your snagged in the slavery trap

    • thraxx

      We are watching what’s going on down here in Florida – keep up the good work guys.

      • Anon

        The whole world is watching :) Except for most of the US…

        • David

          If the whole world were watching and actually keeping up with all the reasons these protest occur then they would probably at some level feel disdain. We live in a country were we have minimum wage that allows us to have clean water, food, shelter, air conditioning, and heat, as opposed to some of the most densely populated areas in the world where they have to live in ghetto and probably will never live as well as the poorest people in the US. Also, half the reason why these protests exist is because of capitalism and people’s unwillingness to reduce their quality of living, even if you can’t find a job, America still has plenty of options to survive. This may seem cold and cut throat but these US protest really does seem like a whining brat.

    • carl

      When the powers that be resort to this types of behaviour then they have already lost. They just don’t realise it yet. Thank you from UK for your reporting.

    • Jotman

      A person reporting a news event was arrested. This shouldn’t happen in the United States. Whether reporter had lacked NYPD press credentials, whether a reporter was arrested in the capacity of a citizen journalist or corporate journalist is irrelevant. Courts have ruled these distinctions don’t exist in the Constitution.

      The writer was on the street reporting a story. Therefore, his arrest was unjustified.

      • Atlant

        The NYPD doesn’t take kindly to protests and the media routinely turn blind eyes to NYPD misconduct; this was amply demonstrated during the NYC Republican National Convention and the aftermath thereof.

        Now, of course, that the NYPD is turning the attack on journalists, both from the legitimate and the alternative press, perhaps the problem the NYPD’s attitude will finally get some media attention? And who knows, for a rare moment, maybe just by accident, some of that coverage may even contain snippets of the PoV of the American Left, another group being roundly ignored by the legitimate press.

        Meanwhile, I believe the best alternative is for many of the assaulted to file actual criminal charges against the NYPD officers who assaulted them. Those charges would be a little harder to sweep under the rug than, say, administrative complaints. And the protesters should be videoing every minute of every interaction with the NYPD.

    • spiral

      How’s he supposed to get credentials from the very same system the protest is about? Kind of a catch 22 don’t you think. The credentials go to the people who say what the man wants them to say.

    • steve

      This comment has been removed due to the inclusion of personal identifiable information.

      • DensityDuck

        steve: Please post your address and phone number. I need to confirm that your information is accurate and I have no other way to contact you.

      • YouAreNotHelpingSteve

        I totally agree with all the protesting. Also there have been multiple court cases where it has been determined if something is done in public including police work then recording it is your LEGAL RIGHT. I also agree the cop had no justification for pepper spraying the lady and should be punished.

        That said you are NOT HELPING by dropping dox and advocating violence at the persons place of residence. I highly suggest removing your post and I will be reporting it.

    • Rob

      Thanks for being there. For those of us that can’t make it out, we will support you from home and on the web. Keep posting and we will keep linking!

    • DensityDuck

      “I watched as police pepper sprayed several young women in the face.”

      Please add some details to this incident. It wasn’t “police”, it was one man, and the rest of the cops holding the barrier were as surprised as the women he sprayed. It is not a policy of the NYPD to mace 90-pound white girls who are just standing on the street.

      • Concerned citizen

        How about this for some detail, this unprovoked attack on an innocent citizen was not stopped by NYPD, who did not arrest the attacker.

        • rc

          The officer’s who stood by and did not offer assistance after the spraying need to also be highlighted. That woman was obviously in need of first aid at the least.

          • Anon

            And it is also important to note that the one girl screaming the loudest is deaf. Let’s cut off your ears and take away your other most important sense for a bit, on top of the burning, etc.

          • Anon

            And sorry RC, this was obviously aimed at the OP.

      • JoeW

        “The Police Department’s chief spokesman, Paul J. Browne, said the police had used the pepper spray “appropriately.””

        So yeah I guess it IS policy.


    • FW Helms

      Solidarity with the protesters from the GLAMROC (German Language Area Members Regional Organizing Committee) of the IWW (Industrial Workers of the World) – HOCH DIE INTERNATIONALE SOLIDARITÄT!

    • Tom


      Go to facebook/CNNPolitics TELL TO AFFILIATE Metro Focus if they haven’t got the GUTS to cover it!.

      Hey Metro Focus… Can you do a piece on how we can call in food orders tothe folks in the encampment? A lot of us can’t get there but still want to help. A piece like that would not only help us help IT WOULD STIMULATE THE LOCAL ECONOMY!!!! Maybe Washington being shamed into seeing a rag-tag bunch of campers showing them up might triigger LUCIDITY on their part.

    • John

      I want to ask the author – were all of your personal and professional effects returned upon your release? I would fear that officers would not keep track of what they confiscated from whom, and everyone is carrying at least a cellphone. Are they returning people’s belongings, or holding them as evidence or letting thing disappear? I for one would lose my mind if they confiscated my professional camera. ALSO was all recorded content, like photos, videos, and audio recordings, returned with the devices?

    • Truth

      I smell a class action law suit against New York City.

    • Phill

      We interviewed one of the women pepper sprayed (Chelsea) just a few days before this incident. What happened to her gives her perspective a pretty chilling context.


    • alexb

      great job on your coverage. leave it to pbs.

    • SM

      This is disturbing to say the least. Teabaggers rail on and on about our freedoms, and here they are being taken away. Our country is turning fascist right befoore our eyes.

      • Dave

        We’ve been headed that way for decades.

    • Missy

      GOD BLESS YOU! Trying to find funding to come and stand with you. Never thought I would ever see this again in America but here we are. Great work, don’t ever give up. Apathy in America seems to be the norm and it’s about time things got back to normal… like living in this country as free citizens with the right to protest. NO VIOLENCE…just plain ongoing protesting. Thank you.

    • scott


      • Agit

        From the wikipedia entry on Anarchism:

        “Anarchists oppose the idea that power and domination are necessary for society, and instead advocate more co-operative, anti-hierarchical forms of social, political and economic organization.”

    • Tatiana

      McCarthyism at it’s best! So the Westboro Baptist wackos can demonstrate and protest yet we CAN’T?

      • Frank Capillo

        Apples to oranges. Those wackos went through lawyers and such and act within the boundaries of free speech. But free speech doesn’t mean you can just run around like a lunatic (or an immature college student!) and wreak havoc just because your friends are doing it too.

    • Brenton

      These videos of police blindly inflicting unnecessary force on innocent civilians makes me sick! The police departments in NY and across the US need to be held accountable for their mistreatments. It’s going to be consistent journalists like this author that help to bring about that change. Police have no authority beyond a certain point, and if you ask me too many officers feel way too comfortable acting on their personal inclination rather than what is determined to be congruent with the law.

    • Ariel Fornari (@ArielFornari)

      If I´m a bit off subject please bear with me. In 2010 I embarked on an online campaign to warn folks in Puerto Rico, to beware of reserve military/veterans which are known members of the state police. It is open knowledge in Puerto Rico that there is a considerable number of their police, which are U.S. ARMY RESERVE, NATIONAL GUARD, AIR NATIONAL GUARD, etc. personnel. We can also draw a reasonable inference that many of these military personnel, have gone to the Iraq, Afghanistan, and other conflicts, such as the so-called war on drugs in Colombia. I stated in the warning that Department of Veterans Affairs has publicly admitted quite some time ago, that there are more undiagnosed cases of PTSD of returnees from these conflicts, than those which are officially known. No need to mention here, the brain injury and suicide epidemic, that has embattled the U.S. military, as a result of these conflicts. I pointed out in my warning, that a Freedom of Information Act request should be submitted to the Pentagon, so that the exact number of military personnel which composed the Puerto Rico state police should be made public. During 2010, during a lengthy University strike in Puerto Rico, the P.R. riot squads were called out, inflicting all sorts of abuse and brutality upon the students. It is also open knowledge that military personnel nowadays are indoctrinated in the sick mentality of the ¨good guys vs. bad guys¨ like in the old western movies. Thus, riot police particularly those with a military background, see a terrorist underneath every bona fide peaceful demonstrator and act accordingly. Until the exact number of military/veteran personnel that compose our police forces are known, we will never know what hides inside that dark curtain that protects the identities, of police members that have a military background or connection.

    • Dave

      Thanks for the excellent journalism. Keep it up.

    • Ariel Fornari (@ArielFornari)
    • Bug

      As a child of the 60’s and 70’s revolutions, just keep coming back, overwhelm them with your presence. They will turn out to be the radical ones (the cops) like they already have. That is how your movement grows. Keep up the good fight in the name of us all.

    • Michael W Sachs

      What truly bothers me with this whole picture is that the Police may be under orders to preserve calm. They are ending up doing the opposite. Which only brings me to wonder if those in higher positions are pushing a few of these police officers to go extreme in the hopes of making these peaceful demonstrators look like wild animals.
      Well from what I’ve seen so far, that’s not happening. I only hope these few bad seeds in the police department will be reprimanded severely for their disgusting actions.

      • tblue

        The violent riot at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago in 1968 was deemed a “police riot” by the official investigation done afterward (in those days a real investigation rather than a cover-up was still at least a possibility). IOW, the police were the ones who caused all the trouble. That is also where the chant “The whole world is watchign!” was first used.

        The cops in the US have become the largest and most dangerous armed criminal gang in the country–and I have actually seen some of them brag laughingly about that very designation in printed comments!

        The US is a police state now. The veneer of civil rights and representation has become very thin, and as long as our votes are tallied by proprietary software owned by rightwing companies, we don’t even have a viable means for changing the government so that people with more democratic beliefs can be elected in most places.

        • Gilligan

          Iran, China, North Korea. Those are police states

    • Brizilliant

      It’s clear that NYPD’s Finest all died in the twin towers, these are just the scumbag cockroaches that stayed at home and wimpered and cried like little crack babies.

    • Trout

      There is a bit of conflict of interest when the guys who arrest you for lacking journalist credentials are also part of the bureaucracy that writes the rules to receive that special journalist status and part of the same bureaucracy that also issues those special press credentials.

      If you can’t see the problem with that Saul Goode, you are either disingenuous or a total moron. I vote that for you both are true.

    • Trout

      BTW, Seattle paid over $1,000,000 in settlements when their police behaved this way during WTO. I suggest a search for the law firm that got that settlement and then engage that firm.

      • Trout

        here we go:

        “The police can respect the constitutional rights of protesters and at the same time protect the public safety,” said Mike Withey, lead attorney for the protesters.

        As part of the settlement, which must be approved by U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman, the city will seal the arrest records and ask any other law enforcement agencies that received copies to expunge them, Withey said. Each protester will be eligible to receive $3,000 to $10,000, and some of the settlement will be used to pay legal fees.

        The case was brought by the Washington, D.C.-based public interest law firm Public Justice.

    • Lynne

      Did they give the people their cameras and laptops back?? Thank you for reporting with truth and conviction.

    • John Farley

      Lynne, the NYPD did return my possessions when I was released from jail. Thank you for asking and for the lively discussion.

    • tblue

      Many of the videos show that the police were especially targeting people with cameras–and if they had professional looking cameras, they were even more likely to be brutalized.

      By the way, many US police departments are now getting their training from Xe (formerly Blackwater), and that training does not exactly emphasize the protection of citizens’ civil liberties.

    • Kathy

      Sounds like the police either observed violence or wanted to diffuse a situation that would prove violent. Not that police can’t be corrupt but this one smacks of some protestors antagonizing to play “gotcha” with the cops.

    • Joey


    • Lord Koos

      Good reporting, but why no mention of the violation of civil rights? Constitutional right were ignored, the right to peaceably assemble, the right of a free press, and the right of free speech. This is the big issue here.

    • zedakiah

      the fuck is this! we have rights and this is abuse of civil given power. keep reporting please, spread this story.

    • Ben S

      I am thrilled to see these protests. I was worried that the little guy, those of whom Investment banks take advantage, would never ban together against to say, “enough is enough!” I constantly find myself out of work, and always for the same lame-ass excuse: “you’re just not learning the job quickly enough,” which is corporate doublespeak for, “we’ve decided that you’re not one of us, and that you never will be. Good luck, though.” Thank you, John Farley. The verbage Constitution does not stipulate paperwork that must be issued in order to identify what is, and what is not PRESS, nor is there a provision of the 1st Amendment for any law enforcement body to qualify an individual as PRESS. Freedom of press is the voice of the American citizen. Keep doing what you do, Mr. Farley. I will post a link of this story to my Facebook page, as well as any updates that follow.

    • tom

      This will be a great way to jump start your media career.

    • Kevin

      Thank you for showing us this. My friend had not heard anything about this today, so i had to explain to them what happened and she seemed horrified. Wake up world and understand just whats going on here…it does not matter if it was just “a few cops” causing trouble or the entire department causing trouble. The problem is that when they wear that uniform, we are suppose to be able to trust them to uphold our rights…and just where are the rights for us when these things happen?

      Is it possible a few protesters are causing problems? Sure it is, but even so it does not justify POLICE BRUTALITY!

    • Joshua Roberts

      its called useful idiocy – rats in a maze fighting an atavistic street action war – if every one of these people were out waking up even One other person to the reality of the New World Order, of the systems that caused it all by design…

      instead, tracked, traced and databased, inserted into the system, no big deal for this journalist im sure, but for many unsuspecting people it is crippling, having the system up your ass… (anyone who has no idea what its like being put through the wringer can shrug here)

      instead, used as justification for more of the same – to the extent that one seriously asks: does it go beyond useful idiocy? is there a weather underground 2.0 dynamic here and is it all just gullible modernists being kettled

      problem > reaction > solution

      w/e though guys.

      see im interested in the cultural/formation war.

      im interested in the end run.

      other people plan an operation from their own muddled tactical perspectives… me? im a perfectionist. i plan to never leave a man behind, i plan lethal, surgical, precision strikes that decapitate my enemies functional capacity.

      im in a ship flying around pulling people out of the matrix while you shore up ultimately futile defenses along precisely that border the enemy has prepared as your grave.

      but w/e right.

      more police state will be the end result, more police state and more ineffectual flagellation from the plebs

      oh! if only the amoebas would work together towards sensible goals…

      this is the picture of a man who clearly has no idea who his enemy is, nor, in any real sense, how to effectively muster force against that enemy…

      and yet has he not all the tools? an able pen and mind and – obviously, enough of a public platform to get his ideas across?

      *throws his hands up*

      everyone else loves this

      im either wrong or i have a point, you decide.

      • Joshua Roberts

        if only there were a codifying synthesis and a framework in which to address all of these concerns, alas, i suspect some array of gatekeeping culturally out on the periphery of individual vision in each case.

        as the individual is led down a primrose path where they are merely “rubbing up against one another (the plebs)”, hacking all the while at the branches of the tree of evil, ignoring utterly, its ROOT.

    • James Darnel

      once again Americans who taking a stand against corruption and institutionalized oppression are beaten and arrested in the streets. the RIGHT to gather and protest, to unify our outcry into one plea to our government is supposed to be the reason why our troops, friends and family, are over seas risking their lives. this was supposed to be not only pledged to the people of this great country by our constitution but sealed by every martyr who lived and died for for its application in the lives of all peoples. but here we are suffering this INJUSTICE; not in Afghanistan or any other middle east country where we are told boogie-men live. but in New York city the beating heart of the recognized American Standard, on our own soil, on the streets in front of our homes, in front of our children as if they’re being told “keep quiet and keep in line”. make no mistake friends we are not being put down for rebelling against our government but trying to work with it.

    • Bob L

      Look at “New York’s finest” when they know cameras are documenting their behavior. One can only wonder the abuses conducted by some of these police officers when they know they are not being filmed. Excellent report!

    • tt

      nonviolence only results in the violent treatment of the innocent-

    • Laser Haas

      John — many KUDOs to you and those with you who brave the tyrannical and corrupted, nefarious hordes of power & money. You have won a friend today. Please keep up the good work.

      We have been documenting how Goldman Sachs is Above the Law for a decade, where their attorneys have confessed to intentional acts of perjury and fraud on the court – yet the Department of Justice will not even mention their names or the name of Goldman Sachs law firm.

      Again – keep up the great work – and keep watching – more to come!

    • rosa

      Anybody want to see some of the pics I took at the rally – here is my blog.


    • rizzo

      Go figure. Every ‘riot’ that I’ve ever seen in person was instigated and propagated by police, this one sounds no different.

    • Elitism Fighter

      Hey Communist homosexuals–HOW BIG WAS YOUR CELEBRATION ON SEPT. 11, 2001–TEN YEARS AGO THIS MONTH?


      • Bobby Vee

        Freedom Fighter: Would you still support your local police after you were thrown to the ground and arrested for just taking pictures of an event you may or may not support? I sure hope not. We are the ones fighting to protect your rights against this type of Police abuse.

    • dxprguy

      Reminds of the things going on in Syria today and Iran a couple years ago? The USA being the beacon of freedom isn’t so bright these days…

    • Bobby Vee

      John, Excellent article. Hate to say, but your arrest has provided you credibility and first hand knowledge that would not have been possible otherwise. I was curious if the police returned your camera. 9 hours would have given them plenty of time to download all of the pictures from your smart card and delete any police brutality incriminating pics.
      Wonder if they had legal right to view pics on your camera? You can bet your penny stocks that they did.
      Keep up the great reporting.

    • betsy shipley

      Another fine article appears in This can’t be happening and CounterPunch by Charles M Young titled: 13 wya to look at the occupation of Wall Street.

    • bailey

      keep up the good work. i feel so bad for all those arrested for NO reason.

    • LaserDLiquidator

      Thanks for the pics Rosa – great work…..

    • Ibetrollin

      Wow. The last time I checked, talking to someone who got Mace’d isn’t illegal. Sometimes, the police are really….. For lack of a vulgar word, stupid.

    • David Chowes


      The banks, corporate America, Wall Street and the fat cats will do anything to continue their greedy and unpatriotic behaviors.

      And, as per usual, many of the police will ‘identify with the aggressor**’ and act against their own interests.

      **Note: Anna Freud’s defense mechanism construct.

    • lorraine

      It is spreading. Friends from Colorado have reported to me that there are demonstrations there. Now with the unions joining, I think it’s going to turn into something even bigger. Lets hope

    • Char

      Start spreading the news
      I`m leaving today

      You all know the tune!

    • alex

      Well people, your hard earned money is paying off police brutality. nypd police number 7185209311

    • bill

      no free speech here in bloomington indiana rich are every where no money for worker
      here too it take two years too hired a janitors here why it ii person leave when do you get another too take that place thank you god for no work here too by the way
      fire peoople are over work here too they can not go and help family any more and
      give out smoker thing for smoke for free why door too door please do something today

    • Armando

      I really liked the story that you’ve written about the events that took place that day. It really shows the blatant abuse of police power and brutality that STILL go on in spite of it being a”peaceful” time. If you need a witness to testify for your disorderly conduct case, I’ll be willing to testify (I was in the same holding cell as you, lol). Respond to my comment if you read this.

    • dung

      If you step on people in this life, you’re going to come back as a cockroach. ~Willie Davis

    • Autumn

      Nice article. So what happened to all the photos, audio, and video in the arrested people’s phones, cameras, etc.? Was it still there, or had it been deleted?

      • Armando

        In my case, they didn’t delete my photos when they took my camera into custody

    • Peter John

      Phenomenal Job. When I shared this article on my Facebook Wall I noted that its objectivity validates the less objective claims in other accounts. I also posted a detail still from the video focusing on the peper spray. It concerned me that as quck and tangentially as the spraying happened it left room for people to claim the girls staged their screaming for the camera. The officer who uses it appoaches at about 18 sec, white short upper right quadrant of frame. At about 20 seconds he pulls out the pepper sray and it is clearly visible in his hand.

      Thank you so much, Mr. Farley, for doing such an outstanding job. Calvin Coolidge was my cousin. My distant uncle Stephen Hopkins signed the Declaration of Independence, and my direct distant grandfather fought at Bunker Hill. I weep inside to see this happening in America.

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    • andrew

      Ban US Corporations and companies who are shipping jobs to oversea. Create jobs in here (USA) , not in oversea. Minimum wage is $ 10 per hour and home rent is $ 400 for 2 people , $500 for 3 people . Tax is 30% for rich people who are making between $ 300000 and 1 million per year . Tax is 40 % for rich people who are making over 1 million per year. Tax is only 5 % for people who are making under $ 50000 per year.

    • emwatcher

      “WATCH VIDEO” — good idea. But they’re not there, and no explanation is given.

      Who took them down?

    • Sebastian Vizcarra

      I am a film student at Boston University CDIA. We are working on a documentary about the repression of media and right to peacefully assemble displayed during the Occupy Wallstreet protests. WE WOULD LIKE TO INTERVIEW JOURNALISTS THAT HAVE BEEN ARRESTED DURING COVERAGE OF THE PROTESTS. WE WILL BE IN NEW YORK THIS WEEKEND. PLEASE REPLY WITH ANY INFORMATION OR CONTACT WE CAN USE. THANK YOU FOR A GREAT ARTICLE.

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