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: