Inner City Press

Inner City Press -- Investigative Reporting From the Inner City to Wall Street to the United Nations

These reports are usually available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis

  Search Search WWW (censored?)

In Other Media-eg AJE, FP, Georgia, NYT Azerbaijan, CSM Click here to contact us     .


Home -

Follow us on TWITTER

These reports are usually available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis


ICP on YouTube

Video on NY Times

Google, Asked at UN About Censorship, Moved to Censor the Questioner, Sources Say, Blaming UN - Update - Editorial

Support this work by buying this book

Click on cover for secure site orders

also includes "Toxic Credit in the Global Inner City"




Bank Beat

Freedom of Information

How to Contact Us

UN Says Investigation of Tear Gas Used at UC Davis Appropriate: OWS Autumn Amid Bank Blindness?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, November 22 -- As the Occupy Wall Street movement has grown, the United Nations has generally dodged questions about authorities' responses to it.

  Inner City Press asked Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's spokespeople about the October 1 arrests on the Brooklyn Bridge, the wounding of Scott Olsen at Occupty Oakland and the mass arrest of protesters sitting-in on Williams and Pine Streets to block the New York Stock Exchange, each time without substantive UN response.

  But on November 22 when Inner City Press asked spokesman Martin Nesirky about the tear gassing of students at University of California-Davis, he responded that the UN is "aware of the footage" and that "an investigation seems to be an appropriate step." Video here, from Minute 4:27.

  One could read too much into this. The UN is otherwise tonedeaf to issues being raised by Occupy Wall Street, for example putting the chairman of Bank of America on its High Level Group on sustainable energy, despite protests on lower Broadway and elsewhere of Bank of America's role as Number One funder of mountain top removal coal mining.

  On November 22, Nesirky noted that the UN is "also aware" of the UC Chancellor speaking to students and faculty. Still, it is noteworthy and stands in contrast to recent UN responses.

(c) UN Photo
Ban Ki-moon in flack jacket, tear gas used on #OWS not shown

From the UN's November 17 transcript:

Inner City Press: Earlier this morning right here in New York there was a peaceful protest at Wall Street. People did a sit-in, the corner of Pine and William Street, and I personally observed people being roughed up and arrested. Was this, in the UN’s view is that a peaceful protest, is there any, does the same standard you are articulating here about the right to peaceful protest and leaders listening, does it apply to events taking place here in Manhattan?

Spokesperson Nesirky: There are a couple of things here. The right to peaceful protest is universal, the notion that people should be able to articulate their views in a peaceful fashion is something that applies everywhere, or should. In addition, the rule of law is an important principle, too. And as you well know, aspects of what has been happening in Lower Manhattan are before the courts and, therefore, it would not be proper to comment further on that particular aspect of it. Okay, other questions?

This was followed-up on November 18:

Question: in New York yesterday when there were demonstrations — thousands and thousands of people demonstrating — I mean, at least 400 to 500 have been arrested all over the United States, and not only in New York in particular; people have been beaten. Do you have anything to say about this at all, on the part of the United Nations, because you are quick to say something about Egypt and Sudan and places like that? What about the United States?

Spokesperson Nesirky: Well, I have answered similar questions on that from Matthew a number of times already.

Correspondent: Matthew has been asking, yes, absolutely.

Spokesperson: So I mean the answer is that peaceful protest is a universal right and people have that right to protest peacefully. And rule of law is an equally important principle as well. What I would also say is that the Secretary-General has said repeatedly — and not just focusing on the Arab Spring — that people are frustrated. I mean he’s said that, as I mentioned in his message on the International Day of Tolerance, that all this flux that is taking place around the world and all this churning creates enormous anxiety. And, for example, in his letter to the G-20 leaders, he said that the gathering force of public protest is a popular expression of an obvious fact that growing economic uncertainty, market volatility and mounting inequality have reached a point of crisis. And he was appealing to leaders to show leadership in dealing with these multiple crises. Public protests that are peaceful are a universally accepted right. And rule of law is also an important principle. Okay, other questions? Yes?

Inner City Press: I have questions onSudan, Somalia and Sri Lanka. But I want to ask one follow-up on that, just to make… to understand what… when you say, you know, peaceful protest is allowed but the rule of law is equally important. Yesterday, what took place is people did a sit-in; they sat down peacefully at [inaudible] various corners around the New York Stock Exchange, trying to express their outrage at bailouts and various things and, you know, many people witnessed and there is film of it. They were violently arrested, including the use of batons and blood streaming down the face. So is a sit-in, which is disruptive but doesn’t use violence, is that the type of non-violent protest that is allowed, and is the use of batons and in the case of the eviction, a sound canon, things like this, who in the UN is sort of monitoring? Your deputy seems to have said well if they are doing it they must need to do it. He said that once. He has also said, you know, well, I will leave it at that one. He basically said the use of police projectiles in Oakland must have been justified because the authorities did it, which is not the approach used elsewhere. So how do you bring these principles you have enunciated down to what is actually taking place, including the critical injury of a protester in Oakland?

Spokesperson: Well, I think you are conflating a number of things here, but just to answer the point, rule of law is extremely important and it will depend in any setting on what are the laws that apply. And it is not for me or for others to interfere in what legislation is in place, what court orders may be in place in any given setting. Just to reiterate that the peaceful protest is a right; rule of law is equally important. And that’s where we are.

Then the November 22 comment. Watch this site.

Share |

Click here for Sept 23, '11 about UN General Assembly

Click for Mar 1, '11 re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption

* * *

These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

Click here for Sept 26, 2011 New Yorker on Inner City Press at UN

Feedback: Editorial [at]

UN Office: S-253, UN, NY 10017 USA Tel: 212-963-1439

Reporter's mobile (and weekends): 718-716-3540

  Search  Search WWW (censored?)

Other, earlier Inner City Press are listed here, and some are available in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.

            Copyright 2006-2011 Inner City Press, Inc. To request reprint or other permission, e-contact Editorial [at]