DA erases charges against reporter arrested covering Garner protest

Reporter’s notebook: My Garner protest arrest and NYPD’s changing tactics
Photo by Paul Martinka

Prosecutors have dropped the disorderly-conduct charges against The Brooklyn Courier’s reporter Noah Hurowitz, stemming from his arrest while covering a police-brutality protest in Manhattan in December.

Our scribe pleaded not guilty on Feb. 2, and the decision to drop and seal the two charges, for supposedly obstructing traffic and disobeying a dispersal order, came over the weekend, after an editor sent a letter to the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office certifying that Hurowitz was working for us at the time of his arrest. Officers didn’t bother looking into the matter before they cuffed him and jailed him for the night, despite Hurowitz clearly identifying himself as a reporter to any cop within earshot.

Hurowitz said he is glad the legal ordeal is done with.

“I’m glad I don’t have to face legal consequences for doing my job,” he said. “I think that what I was doing was within the parameters of what a journalist does.”

The bogus criminal case dates back to the evening of Dec. 4, the second night of demonstrations following a grand jury’s decision not to indict Officer Daniel Pantaleo for killing Gowanus native Eric Garner in Staten Island while attempting to arrest him. Hurowitz had traveled to the distant island of Manhattan to live-tweet the night’s events. The protests had spilled over into Brooklyn several times during the thousands-strong marches that had happened nearly nightly starting on Nov. 24, when a Missouri grand jury chose not to indict the officer who shot and killed Michael Brown in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson.

The contingent Hurowitz was shadowing zigzagged around Manhattan and ended up just downtown of Times Square at Seventh Avenue and 42nd Street. There a phalanx of police met the 600-or-so marchers, barring the way down Seventh Avenue.

At the ready: A line of police stands guard in Times Square on Dec. 4 after a clash with protesters.
Photo by Paul Martinka

As the crowd crushed in, with Hurowitz at the front, the cops pushed back. They whacked and grabbed people as they went, and one eventually issued a dispersal order over a megaphone, but there was nowhere for our reporter to go.

Photos and video of the chaos show Hurowitz tapping out tweets and shooting photos on his phone alongside several other journalists.

His last tweet before being cuffed reads, “Arrests seem random.”

Protesters did end up crossing the Brooklyn Bridge that night, but Hurowitz, in a holding cell at One Police Plaza, was unable to cover it. The NYPD and the New York County District Attorney’s Office did not return calls.

Nathan Tempey is a Deputy Editor at the Community Newspaper Group. Reach him at ntemp‌ey@cn‌gloca‌l.com or by calling (718) 260–4504. Follow him at twitt‌er.com/‌natha‌ntemp‌ey.
Reporter Noah Hurowitz
Community News Group / Nathan Tempey