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WW article about IndyMedia

...Although there has always been censorship of messages posted by cops and right-wingers, dubbed "trolls," some current and former Indymedia activists say the Portland IMC is increasingly censoring progressives who are considered too moderate.
read and weep or laugh..whatever!

homepage: homepage: http://www.wweek.com/flatfiles/News3844.lasso

Counterpunch spin 23.Apr.2003 11:11

you're not alone nick, just blind.


When Police Attack Journalists- It's Not Just Protesters Anymore


April 19, 2003

It's Not Just Protesters Anymore
When Police Attack Journalists

I have reported on mass protests where police attacked protestors, but I tended to accept- and even wrote in some articles- statements by police that protestors provoked this violence. The crowd got out of control, I thought. Surely, someone threw rocks, threw punches, or did something to instigate these assaults. The police would not attack people for no reason.

After witnessing, and feeling, attacks by multiple baton-wielding officers during the permitted anti-war march in the capital on April 12, I realized I have made a mistake. As a reporter, I have mistakenly placed the burden of proof on the protestors, rather than the police. And now, as I see coverage of the protest where I was beaten, I see other journalists doing the same.

A local news station showed video footage of an officer beating a restrained protestor. So D.C. Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey assigned the officer to "desk duty." He said, "I'm not just going to hang this guy out to dry just because someone made an allegation."

Media reports of the attacks have towed this line. When journalists state "protestors and police clashed," and "protestors scuffle with police," it leads the public to believe that the protestors brought it upon themselves. If unofficial sources (protestors) say they were beaten, they are making allegations. If official sources (police) say it was an "appropriate response," we often treat it as fact.

I attended the march as a freelance journalist, and was beaten by police with batons while I was wearing my Congressional press pass. These attacks were not just "allegations."

Here's what happened at one point on the march: Near the intersection of 9th and G Streets police buzzed the crowd on motorcycles, hitting one protestor. A scuffle ensued, about 40 feet in front of me. Police pepper sprayed some protestors, and then went after everyone in the intersection.

Because of the national uproar over last year's controversial mass arrests of World Bank-IMF protestors in Pershing Park­ and lawsuits now pending- police say they have reevaluated their policy on such arrests. True to their word, they didn't go into the crowd arresting innocent people. Instead, they beat them.

The melee worked its way back to me, as I tried to walk my bicycle toward the sidewalk. Without warning I was struck on my back by a police officer with a baton, who then started yelling, "Clear the streets."

At least five officers used batons to push the crowd toward the sidewalk and against another group of officers. We were caught between two lines of cops swinging batons. When the crowd pushed me against one officer I told him, "I'm not assaulting you, I'm not trying to touch you, I'm being trampled, please help."

He looked me in the eyes, almost like he was sorry, and said, "I know." I fell from the pressure of panicked people trying to flee. Others collapsed on top of me. I couldn't breathe, and yelled for help. An officer behind me pulled at my neck and throat, tearing my shirt, yelling, "Get up." I couldn't, I told him, because I was being trampled.

When I managed to stand and take a few steps, a police officer struck me twice with his baton, held horizontally in both hands. I flew back onto the mass of flailing people. "Clear the street," he yelled. "Back up."

The pile slowly unraveled and I went for my bike. The same officer who hit me moments before now intentionally stomped on the rear portion of the bike as he yelled, "MOVE!"

I surveyed the damage to my bike, and my body, and asked officers for badge numbers. They pretended they didn't hear me. Some turned and walked away. Even those that I knew were not directly involved remained silent: they acted like a gang, covering for each other. One turned around, pushed me with his baton, and yelled, "Get the hell out of here!"

For white, upper-middle class reporters like me, it may come as a shock that police can do these things, and get away with it. I would like to believe that freedom of speech is protected in our country, and that the police exist to protect such freedoms. I hope that, unlike me, other journalists do not need to endure attacks by police to begin reporting critically on police conduct. We have a civic responsibility to stop accepting police statements and start holding these people accountable.

Will Potter is a reporter for the Chronicle of Higher Education. In his spare time he independently covers politics and social movements. He has written for the Chicago Tribune, the Dallas Morning News and the Texas Observer. He can be reached at:  will.potter@lycos.co.uk

add your own comments

wweek article 23.Apr.2003 11:15


i don't really see indymedia censoring "moderate" posts. my two cents, i think there should be some sort of moderation, just to keep things on topic and relevant. this can include discussion, dissention, and discourse. for example "i think we should block entrances to federal buildings because...", "no, i think we should keep blocking bridges because..." are valid. "you stupid hippies blah blah blah" contributes nothing and just wastes space.

maybe there should be clarification and revision of the indymedia policy to make it more clear as to what will be composted.

more censorship 23.Apr.2003 11:34


Actually, I think it's time to pull the posts of all right wing idiots. This is supposed to be a news board, not a way for highschool kids, like mike above, to talk at people whtihout the scary prospect of actually meeting them. Consider the life of someone who has to waste his days writing notes to people who don't like him, and don't want to bother with him. Silly little boy. Get yourself some human friends.

Letter to Nick 23.Apr.2003 15:21



Your characterization of PDX IMC is so incredibly far from the mark. I am willing to testify to that. Your article doesn't even count as journalism. It is just your attempt at retribution because you cannot deal with results of your action/inaction as writer for a corporate media outlet. Though, you still have a chance to write what you want to, on your own deadlines, without the need to sacrifice journalistic integrity on IMC should you choose a personal revolution. You never answered the charges that WW makes money from sex adds. How does that facts of the charges make you feel? Do you like sex ads? Are you counting on the fact that WW readers do? This article really raises the stakes of the question, "What kind of person are you?"

I will conceed that, in so far as you clearly have your own agenda arising from a lack of morality and insecurity about your voice/action, you are clearly not merely a slave to WW's. However, the way you implemented your agenda has led you (perhaps the WW as well) to libelously attack individuals. Whereas Jim Redden had a problem finding an organization or person on which to file suit. Should spArk, Deva or any other volunteer choose that path they will have no problem.

All that your article does is to reinforce, in a Hearstian way, what was already plain to all of us about corporate media and yourself. Your insecurities and lashings out have put you in place of liability as well. Your only choice is to tell the whole truth and to apologize. You are the one who was unmasked today.

PDX IMC Volunteer

Poor Journalism 23.Apr.2003 15:50


Typical of the WW style of writing, the story is infused with one individuals hurt feelings over jabs at WW by the hands of IMC forum contributors. You would think they could get past that and just stick to an analysis of IMC. Instead, the article points to problems that are minor in comparison to those of other forms of media. Nick provided little insight into the growing phenomena of alternative journalism and its impact on a significant population of activists. There were few, if an, references to the examples of articles posted on IMC along with the diverse representation found here. It appeared to be more of a tit for tat type of reporting - the good, the bad, but no depth. I was somewhat saddened to hear that Lisa Loving did not consider IMC to be a viable resource. IMC has a mixture of independent reporting, some valid, some not. What can you say about the mainsteam media? Between IMC and the dozens of other alternative media, I have learned more in the past two years than decades of reading mainstream press. If you have the ability to filter what you read and think critically, IMC is a valuable resource. WW readers are the losers. Come on Nick, get past certain perceptions and feelings and go beyond the level of reporting that is considered acceptable at WW.