Update: Did anyone see the portion of the video where the photographer punched a female demonstrator? I’m not buying it, but that is what is being reported by the Socialist Worker.
One of the most annoying things I’ve experienced as a photographer is freedom-chanting protesters who assault you for photographing them.
It happened to me last year as I was filming a group of right-wing Cuban exiles in Miami and it happened to a friend of mine in 2005 as he photographed a bunch of left-wing pro-choice demonstrators in Miami, which I wrote about here.
And it happened last week in New York City as a New York Post photojournalist tried to photograph a mob of pro-Gaza demonstrators in Times Square as you can see in the above video.
Unlike the two incidents in Miami, where police got involved, New York City police officers stood by dumbly even though the photographer asked for their help several times.
In the video, a mob of pro-Gaza demonstrators are standing behind a barricade holding signs, exercising their First Amendment rights. A long line of pro–Gaza “security guards” clad in green vests stand on the other side of the barricades, creating a barrier between the protesters and photographers.
When the photojournalist tried to take pictures of the protesters, the protesters started banging him on his head with their signs, accusing him of being “undercover”.
Ignorance like this transcends all ethnic and political lines. When I was assaulted by the Cuban exiles, they accused me of being a Cuban spy. When my friend Danny Hammontree was assaulted by a female liberal, he was accused of being an FBI spy.
But rather than talk sense into their own people, the group of the green-vested security guards started pushing the photographer away, shoving him backwards on a public street. The photographer tried several times to enroll the help of the NYPD but he might as well have been talking to his own ass.
I have no idea who these people are or who gave them the authority to piss all over the First Amendment, but the picture below from Zombie Time, which was taken at a previous pro-Gaza protest, infers they may have been from ANSWER.
As far as I can tell, they might as well have been from Hamas.
The video is more than ten minutes long but you need to see the whole thing to get the full effect. To his credit, he stands up to the group, even pushing one of them back when he got too close, but the photographer was clearly outnumbered.
According to the Socialist Worker, the photographer sparked the altercation by punching a female protester in the face. The video shows that he lunged into the crowd after someone hit him with a sign.
When a photographer from the pro-Israel New York Post attempted to aggravate protesters, the crowd stood up to him. The reporter went berserk and punched a young woman in the face, right in front of police.
The activist who was punched by the photographer, M. Aryai from Northern Manhattan Peace and Justice, said, “I’m appalled at what just happened to me. The media that is in favor of Israel behaves just as Israel does. This incident was just a small glimpse of what Israel does to Palestinians on a daily basis. As horrible as this was for me, this is still nothing compared to what Palestinians face every day.”
So if he punched a woman right in front of the cop, why didn’t he get arrested? It’s obvious the police at the scene are oblivious to what is happening, but would they turn a blind eye to a female getting punched?
And if the photographer was such an instigator, why is he the one continuously trying to get police involved? And why did that guy in the green vest stick his hand in the photographer’s pocket?
I’ve been mainly neutral over the Israeli-Palestinian debate but this video has caused me to turn a deaf ear to their “free Gaza” chants and focus on their freedom-stomping, thug-like assault on a member of the press. And yes, I do know that Israel has banned journalists from entering Gaza, but what do you expect from a country that does not have the First Amendment?
But in the United States? From people who are not even cops? From people who might not even be citizens?
They have a lot of fucking nerve.