Charges Stand Against Jared Malsin, Arrested While Covering Occupy Wall Street

Jared Malsin, a student of NYU’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute who reports for The Local, was arraigned this morning on two charges of disorderly conduct after he was arrested near Zuccotti Park while covering the park’s clearing on Nov. 15.

“They’re both violations, not crimes,” said Gideon Orion Oliver, an attorney with the National Lawyers Guild who is representing Mr. Malsin. “These are the vanilla, typical protester-esque charges.” Mr. Oliver said his client is accused of “blocking vehicular pedestrian traffic with intent to cause public inconvenience, annoyance or alarm” and “refusal to comply with a lawful order of police to disperse with the intent to cause public inconvenience, annoyance or alarm, or recklessly creating a risk thereof.”

Mr. Oliver asked the court for an opportunity to submit motions arguing that the charges be dismissed, “especially because he was working as press at the time of the arrest,” he said. “I’m hopeful the district attorney’s office will consider the letter from The Times that clearly says he was working press at the time and dismisses the case, in the interest of justice.”

Shortly after the arrests of Mr. Malsin and other reporters received widespread media attention, The New York Times, along with a dozen other outlets, sent a letter to the Police Department about the treatment of reporters. Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly subsequently told officers they could be disciplined if they interfered with media access. Last month, The Times sent another e-mail to the NYPD after a photographer was apparently blocked from shooting an incident.

Mr. Oliver said, “The police department pays lip service to the first amendment when it comes to access of credentialed and independent media to arrest locations or public areas where there’s police activity going on. On Nov. 15 in particular, the restrictions on press access were unconscionable.”

Yetta Kurland, an attorney who has represented reporters and protesters arrested at OWS, said, “We want to be able to allow New York citizens to exercise their first amendment rights without any interruption, let alone excessive force by the NYPD. It’s even more chilling when we see the press being treated the way they’re being treated and arrested.”

Mr. Malsin, whose next hearing is scheduled for March 5, said, “I’m disappointed that these charges are being pursued at all, but I’m optimistic this can be resolved in a reasonable way as soon as possible.”

On Monday, prosecutors dropped charges against 21 people arrested during an Occupy Wall Street protest near Union Square on Sept. 24. Meanwhile, arrests continue; The Times reported that three Occupy protesters were arrested at Zuccotti Park last night.