NYPD: Elmo Safe, Journalists Not So Much

There is breaking news out of New York City today. The New York Police Department has announced that it is halting its crackdown on Elmo. Journalists, on the other hand, are out of luck.

Just a day after a series of violent arrests of citizen journalists covering Occupy Wall Street, and reports of NYPD blocking and harassing a New York Times photographer, the Big Apple’s police force released a statement saying it would no longer ticket the costumed cartoon characters that frequent Times Square.

The NY Daily News reports that “It’s the end of Ticket me, Elmo.” 

“The NYPD issued a lengthy directive last month,” the article notes, “making it clear that the characters were okay if they didn’t block traffic or sell products and photos.” People interviewed for the piece mostly supported Elmo’s right to assembly.

Meanwhile, the total number of journalists arrested at Occupy events around the country today rose to 34, spanning 10 cities. And while press suppression has occurred around the country, New York City is by far the worst offender.

Elmo’s newfound freedom is most galling in light of an eerily similar directive issued by NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly in which he ordered officers to stop interfering with the press during Occupy events. Since Kelly issued that order, two journalists have been arrested and numerous others have been blocked from reporting. The video below, featuring a credentialed New York Times photographer, is a stunning example of the challenges journalists are facing as they try to report on Occupy protests.

In response to the news that Elmo would be allowed to freely roam the streets of New York, newsroom staff across the city have rushed out to buy Sesame Street costumes. Who needs press credentials when you have red fur?

Stay up to date on news about journalist arrests here.

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