Robert Stolarik, a New York Times freelance photographer whose clashes with police became part of the narrative of Occupy Wall Street was arrested while on assignment for the paper in the Bronx over the weekend, apparently for getting too close to an arrest in progress. And for the first time, The Times wrote about him by name.
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According to an un-bylined piece in The Times, the 43-year-old Stolarik was on an assignment with two reporters for the paper, doing interviews in the Bronx, when police not only blocked him from shooting a street fight but took him into custody, kicking him in the back and dragging him along the ground as they did so, the photographer told the paper. Per The Times:
Mr. Stolarik was taking photographs of the arrest of a teenage girl about 10:30 p.m., when a police officer instructed him to stop doing so. Mr. Stolarik said he identified himself as a journalist for The Times and continued taking pictures. A second officer appeared, grabbed his camera and “slammed” it into his face, he said.
Mr. Stolarik said he asked for the officers’ badge numbers, and the officers then took his cameras and dragged him to the ground; he said that he was kicked in the back and that he received scrapes and bruises to his arms, legs and face.
Stolarik's work regularly appears in The Times, and his confrontation with police in December helped publicize the problem of officers obstructing news coverage by intentionally blocking photographers' shots. He tangled with police again in January, when officers put their hands in front of his camera lens while he was documenting arrests at a protest. In both cases, The Times' coverage mentioned officers confronting photographers, but didn't mention Stolarik by name. But the paper did use the incidents, and other obstructions of journalists during the Occupy Wall Street protests, as fodder for letters in which it and other media outlets demand the NYPD allow them to do their jobs. In this latest instance, though, which a lawyer for The Times called "especially distressing," the paper covered Stolarik's arrest as the main thrust of the story. He's been charged with obstructing government administration and resisting arrest and is due in court in November, the paper reported.