15th November 2011 10:07
Late Night Eviction of Occupy Wall Street
Since 17th September this year, the Occupy Wall Street camp has been peacefully protesting and has given birth to a worldwide movement. At 1am local time (6am GMT) an operation began to clear the camp, with Health and Safety grounds being given as the reason. In shocking scenes as the world watched, police wearing helmets and carrying shields moved into the camp; tents and structures were torn down, the books of the library tossed in a skip and protesters arrested. Pirate Party UK condemns this unnecessary move and supports the right to protest.
One of the most alarming aspects of this action is that the media have been kept away, and that police are ignoring press passes. Village Voice journalist Rosie Gray, for example, reported on Twitter that when she explained that she was press, an officer replied: "Not tonight". This restriction of the press has been confirmed by a number of news outlets, including the BBC. The right of the press to report freely is fundamental to an informed democracy. Moves to curtail reporting clearly fly in the face of the USA's constitutional right to free speech.
Questions need to be asked about why the clearance was carried out overnight if this was genuinely on Health and Safety grounds, along with who authorised this action which has been very heavy-handed. It should also be noted that this follows on from similar action at the Occupy protest in Oakland on Monday and Portland on Sunday evening. We also have concerns over reports that action is being taken to prevent the protesters from continuing in other locations by the NYPD.
Loz Kaye, Pirate Party UK's leader said:
These scenes shame New York and the US. They must not be repeated here. We need urgent assurances that the UK Police will not treat Occupy LSX in the same way.
We condemn this action being taken against peaceful protesters who are simply exercising their rights to express their opinion and feeling and we support their right to protest in a peaceful manner.
Pirate Party UK - NEC
+44 (0) 161 987 7880