When the New York Police Department raided the Occupy encampment in Zuccotti Park on November 15, 2011 they arrested more than 10 journalists and threatened or harassed many others. However, they also destroyed an enormous amount of equipment that local journalists had been using to livestream from Occupy Wall Street.
In a settlement released this week, New York City agreed to pay the livestream collective Global Revolution TV $75,000 for damage done to their equipment and an additional nearly $50,000 to cover the livestreamers legal fees. (Notably, the settlement also calls for NYC to pay $47,000 for books that were destroyed when police dismantled “the people’s library” in Zuccotti Park.)
Global Revolution TV was one of the most active livestream groups covering Occupy Wall Street and found themselves targeted by police on more than one occasion. Just a month and a half after the Zuccotti raid, Global Revolution TV’s Brooklyn studio space was also raided. Six members of the Global Revolution TV team were arrested at the time for refusing the vacate the building they were using as studio space.
While livestreaming has been an important part of protests and movements for at least half a decade, Occupy Wall Street took livestreaming mainstream. Over the last two years with the rise and spread of Internet connected phones and cameras, more and more people have taken up livestreaming from sporting events to political rallies.
In the face of this democratization of the tools of journalism and broadcasting, the courts and the Department of Justice continue to assert people’s first amendment right to record. While this settlement doesn’t speak to First Amendment issues, it is a reminder of the central role livestreaming played, and continues to play, in protests worldwide.