Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Newspaper Guild-CWA, New York Local Seeks Full, Public Investigation of Photographer`s Arrest, Treatment by NYPD


Following is a statement by The Newspaper Guild-CWA: 

Robert Stolarik, with camera, just prior to arrest
Freelance photographer Robert Stolarik’s account of being roughed up by New York City police officers and having his camera equipment confiscated while he was attempting to do his job is deeply disturbing. 

The incident Saturday night, Aug. 4, occurred as he was working for The New York Times, photographing the police breaking up a street fight and making an arrest. 

Mr. Stolarik’s report and the police version are vastly different, but that is not uncommon. 

Janet Alexander posted images of The New York Times photographer's arrest on

 NewsGuild-CWA, and our New York local, the Newspaper Guild of New York, call on the NYPD to fully and transparently investigate this incident, which appears to have had numerous witnesses. 

If Mr. Stolarik’s account proves accurate, we add it to a litany of verified incidents showing the NYPD is using excessive force against journalists trying to cover stories involving police action. 

It is deeply troubling and wholly unacceptable for any citizen to be treated this way, and it becomes a crime of concealment when it involves journalists. 

The only way to begin to restore the public and the media’s confidence in the NYPD is with a thorough investigation and a full public reporting of the facts. 

Since the economic collapse brought on by financial institutions in 2008 many in America are seeking a way to make their voices heard. Their stories need to be told. 

But too often authorities are harshly suppressing dissent and targeting the journalists covering these events. This should not be a political issue; as Americans we all value the rights we are granted under the First Amendment to speak out, to assemble and to report on what we see and hear. 

New York City is not the only U.S. city where authorities are attempting to silence people’s voices. It’s time to take a hard look at what’s happening to our First Amendment freedoms and remember the example that we set for the world. 

Janelle Hartman

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