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Occupy Oakland Media Ban is Hypocritical and Dangerous

Update (10/20): After talking with the Media Subcommittee, I learned that the GA has not restricted media from recording, but has asked that they not film those sleeping, not go inside people’s tents, and to stop recording if asked.

The Occupy Oakland General Assembly agreed to require that media get permission to record and photograph at the Frank Ogawa Plaza encampment, a move that is extremely hypocritical given the protestor’s insistence that they have a constitutional right to occupy that space and is essentially a ban on media’s right to report in a public space.

There is legitimate anger about mainstream media in general and it’s role in perpetuating the crony capitalist system being targeted by the protest movements, but alienating the only people who are informing Bay Area residents not tapped into the alternative media about what’s going on, and then having them talk about the hostility of protestors threatening to break camera equipment, is not good for the cause.

Over at OccupySF, where many are welcoming to the media, I’ve talked to a number of people who came out to their camp precisely because they saw it on the evening news or heard it on the radio. But at their General Assembly on Monday, a group booted out producers from KPFA who were going to stream the meeting live on-air, a move that certainly alienated one of the most pro-Occupy media outlets in the Bay Area.

It’s also not going to win over allies if the police storm the camp and throw everything that’s being built into the garbage. Even though the space has become home for many people, and those people want some degree of privacy, the plaza, in the eyes of the Constitution, is not just for the camper; it’s for everyone. And now look at the narrative being broadcast: the protestors are shutting us up, silencing our right to free speech. It’s a negative narrative, far more so than misreporting a story. And they have every right to criticize the movement in Oakland for their decision.

The movement should be working with the media, to use them as a vessel to educate and transform the people in our communities who are still on the fence. This is an opportunity to share with a wide audience all the experimental ideas embodied in these campsites.

How can anyone cry First Amendment right to protest and assemble after you have silenced the rights of people to report, take photos, and shoot video in a public space? Why should anyone listen to your speech after you silence the rights of others to do so?

Videos about media at Occupy Oakland:

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  1. Please provide hard evidence of this so-called “ban.” Quoting an SF gate blog article that has other factual errors is not evidence of a ban. Perhaps you should speak to someone who is a part of the media working group before jumping to conclusions. Like me, for instance.

  2. As we discussed on FB, requiring permission to shoot video or take photos is a ban. You haven’t been able to provide evidence that the information reported in the Chronicle was wrong, so until you do so, no correction will be made. And I hope it is wrong, because such policies are draconian and not in alignment with the values of this movement.

  3. We understand that we are occupying public space and we can in no way control the actions of the media. Thus, any talk of a “ban” is really hyperbole. We simply ask that journalists act ethically. We do not require that you ask permission to shoot video or take pictures. We ask that you check in at the media tent, that you talk to a wide variety of people, that you verify information presented as factual, and that you respect that while people are living here, we do have a certain expectation of privacy. Should a camera be allowed to come into my tent and film me undressing just because I am doing so in a public space? Again, I realize that we have no legal leg to stand on; this is simply a matter of ethics.

  4. Also, regarding providing evidence that the information quoted in the Chronicle is wrong, it is not MY responsibility to do so. It is the Chronicle’s responsibility to verify information they present as factual. This is their error, not Occupy Oakland’s. At tonight’s GA discussion the media team is proposing a press release to correct the misinformation circulating about Occupy Oakland. I encourage you to join this discussion.

  5. the current statement on media process from Occupy Oakland (http://www.occupyoakland.org/press-media/) is more than even the police ask for and is clearly not voluntary in nature. Would anyone from them care to try and explain why it is a good thing?

    The meme that recording someone without their permission is not ethical is a false. Just ask any real journalist.

    Would Liz care to explain?