Several photographers, including a freelancer on assignment for Metro shooting the Occupy Wall Street May Day events today, were attacked by so-called Black Bloc protesters rallying on the Lower East Side.
Photographer Jeremy Sparig was following protesters as they ran along Forsyth Street after marching across the Williamsburg Bridge. The protesters he was specifically shooting were dressed all in black, with black hoods and goggles covering their faces, and are known to employ more radical
Black Bloc tactics.
"I was in the street, shooting this protester as he ran and he said, 'Get out of the street,' or something," Sparig said.
Sparig told the man he was a journalist trying to record the day's events, but that's when the man took a swing at him.
Three other men, also dressed in black with their faces hidden, jumped in and kicked him in the back to the ground, and started punching him in the back of the head. He dodged their blows, but one punch landed solidly right on his crown. Sparig said the first thing he tried to do was shield his head, and then his camera equipment, as he kept telling the men he was a journalist.
Sparig said it was other Occupy Wall Street protesters who pulled the men off him.
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"I think it's especially troubling that four individuals would attack one, all but also think it's important to note that when this happened, it was other protesters who came to my aid," Sparig said.
His head is bruised and lumpy and he has some pain from the attack.
Sparig filed a police report, and the NYPD filed the incident as harassment, because they couldn't see any visible injuries, although Sparig suffered a knot on the back of his head during the incident.
When asked about the incidents by Metro, an Occupy Wall Street spokesman said he was unaware of the alleged violence.
"I really don't want attention over this, and expressed that to my editor, but I think it's important to note journalists are out there doing their job by covering these events," Sparig said. "And I think it's terrible that protesters who rely on the media to give them voice, are also seeking to displace some of their anger and resentment on those trying represent their cause."
"I could've been hurt pretty badly, or my camera equipment could've been damaged -- which would put me out of work -- but I got lucky," he continued. "At least I didn't lose any of my teeth, or my camera, or end up in the hospital."
Other journalists attacked
In another incident, photographer Stephanie Keith tweeted: "Some black bloc man bigger than me with bandana tried to take my camera from me violently f-- that! Smash the state not my camera"
Freelance shooter C.S. Muncy also saw a melee involving a photographer, tweeting: "Black bloc attacking press"
"I had a couple people make grabs for my gear," Muncy told Buzzfeed. "They just didn't want their pictures taken." "One girl walks up to one of the photogs and nailed him right in the face," Muncy said. "He popped her right back." Muncy told Buzzfeed the photographer was Lucas Jackson of Reuters.