The Occupy movement activists setting up encampments throughout the country have maintained they are expressing their First Amendment rights to protest by assembling in public.
However, there have been several instances where these same activists have attempted to deny the rights of journalists to record them.
Last week, Occupy Oakland activists demanded that reporters not video record them. Some activists assaulted reporters. One activist even sicced his dog on a reporter.
Earlier this month, Occupy DC activists tried to deny Adam Kokesh from recording them. I’ve also heard of Occupy St. Louis activists doing the same, but I can’t find the link now.
Wednesday night as I camped out with the Occupy Miami activists, a teenage activist took issue when I panned my camera on him.
He was leaning against a wall with other activists and homeless people and told me I did not get his consent to record him.
Although I am in full support of these activists, I trained my camera back on him and told him I did not need consent.
We went back and forth until he stood up and threatened to call the “legal resource” team, which turned out to be another group of activists with no law degrees and even less knowledge of the laws regarding videography.
At one point, I was surrounded by a group of activists telling me I had no right to record without consent (while one of them was recording me).
Then when I informed them I did have the right, they gave me the old “is it ethical to record someone without their consent” argument, which gets very tiresome.
I know a lot of these activists, many who are my friends, but this particular group had no idea who I was.
The argument got a little heated as Liz Tracy of the Miami New Times describes in her piece:
11:40 p.m. Some action stirs up. I think the female facilitator from earlier or her friend get mad at photographer Carlos Miller, who’s also covering the occupation, for taking their picture. We are protesting in a public space. He can take pictures in a public place. However, there’s a mini-stink about it. Some of these protesters need to chill out. There’s definitely a sprinkling of holier-than-thou divas.
It turns out, the teenager who didn’t want to be recorded was 15 years old and was not allowed to be at the encampment. He was worried that his parents would see the video and ground him.
All he had to do was walk up to me and explain his situation and I would have completely understood. It wasn’t exactly the most exciting footage until he got all stupid.
I agreed to attend a future Occupy Miami general assembly to speak to activists about allowing people to record them and hopefully educate them.
This isn’t the first time Occupy Miami tried to deny a reporter from recording them. I’m hoping it’s the last.
Below is another video of Occupy Oakland activists forbidding the media from documenting their encampment.
They shouldn’t be surprised if the Oakland media drops them completely from their coverage, rendering them irrelevant.