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2004-08-06

NYC Independent Media Center Loses Newsroom Space Weeks Before GOP Convention

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Minutes before NYC Indymedia was prepared to sign a temporary lease yesterday, the landlord pulled out of the deal after being approached by law enforcement. [includes rush transcript]

Police have been in regular contact with many buildings in the city ahead of the Republican National Convention, especially those near Madison Square Garden and other protest locations.

The IMC was hoping to rent a large space near Madison Square Garden during the Republican National Convention.

We talk to Joshua Breitbart from NYC Indymedia for an update.

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: We are joined in our studio right now by Josh Breitbart. He is a member of the New York City I.M.C. that’s been working to find a space to serve as a newsroom for independent journalists covering the Republican National Convention. Can you tell us, Josh, what happened over the last few days?

JOSHUA BREITBART: Yes, I just want to correct one thing. We didn’t report that there — that a specific contact was made with any landlord. We don’t know that to be the case. What we do know is that a landlord we had been dealing with for weeks, that we were ready to make — sign a contract on a space, at the very last minute pulled out of the deal citing security concerns. And I think that just the very fact that responding to general security concerns causing somebody to withdraw from a contract at the last minute really demonstrates the climate of fear and insecurity and confusion that is beginning to permeate this city. Not the result necessarily of anything mischievous that law enforcement is doing but as a result of the very public things that law enforcement is doing. Stationing soldiers, I can’t really call them officers, they’re U.S. army spray-painted blue around midtown, doing these surges where they move 60 cars and hundreds of officers into a location at any one time. And then issuing these general security threats and creating that climate of fear and insecurity. I’m not going to say that any individual was contacted but that general climate of fear and insecurity is making it very difficult to work as independent journalists in the city of New York.

AMY GOODMAN: Will you be able to get a space for the Independent Media Center, where it’s known hundreds of journalists come at a gathering like the Republican National Convention to file stories, to do their reports?

JOSHUA BREITBART: Yes. It is a critical service provided to independent journalists. It gives us access to resources, it allows us to collaborate. At this point it is very difficult. We definitely need as much help as we can get to find a space, to gather those resources, and we’re collecting that information at nycgrassrootsmedia.org but we have been set very far back by this very sudden change of plans.

AMY GOODMAN: So do you know that this landlord was contacted?

JOSHUA BREITBART: No, I don’t know that they were contacted individually. I couldn’t say that. But I do know that the change at the very last minute was the result of security concerns. I don’t know be that that was specific to the building or just if a general climate of fear and confusion. But we’re doing our best to communicate with the city and create a sense of calm, because —

AMY GOODMAN: Josh Breitbart, I want to thank you for being with us and contacts to your organization, people can go to our website at democracynow.org.

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