Approximately 10 anti-mandate protestors and two independent journalists filming them were arrested in the New York City AMC theater in Midtown Monday evening.
In a sit-in protest against the theater’s vaccination requirement, protestors stayed seated until police were called, which resulted in their arrest. Independent journalist filming the demonstration, known as LeeroyPress, was also arrested, despite having press credentials from the International Association of Press Photographers.
Leeroy also has an Honorary Doctoral degree in Humanities. He claims journalistic neutrality in his work. “I take no sides. I only report the truth,” he said in a call with American Pigeon in Fall 2021. (RELATED: Freedom Rally and BLM Protestors Gather Together for Kyrie Irving: “Let Kyrie Play!”)
“Activists against mandates attempt to watch a movie at a movie theater that’s for the [vaccinated only]. The NYPD was called on them to remove them. The NYPD arrived and they are now waiting on the NYPD srg [Strategic Response Group] unit to arrive (riot cops). Stay tuned this is still going on now,” Leeroy posted on Instagram before he was arrested.
According to Leeroy, after he arrived at the scene with both a “mask and press pass,” a couple of NYPD officers arrived shortly after and gave him permission to stay, recognizing his credentials. NYPD Legal, the bureau to assist law enforcement with legal matters, also reportedly recognized him from previous events.
When Commanding Officer for the Midtown South Precinct Inspector Robert W. O’Hare arrived at the scene, he reportedly walked up to Leeroy and another NYC based independent journalist to inspect their credentials.
As can be heard from the video documenting Leeroy’s arrest, O’Hare would not acknowledge Leeroy’s press pass because it was “not an NYPD press pass.”
“You want us to leave?” Leeroy then asked a few times.
O’Hare never requested they leave and did not issue a warning before arresting them.
The NYPD Legal team did not come to Leeroy’s defense, despite previously permitting him to stay, according to Leeroy. However, one officer in the video is heard telling O’Hare that Leeroy is press.
An NYPD press pass allows a journalist to “Cross police, fire lines, or other restrictions, limitations or barriers established by the City at emergency, spot, or breaking news events and non-emergency public events,” according to the NYC government website.
However, “A press card is not required to engage in news gathering activity and to work as a journalist in New York City,” according to the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment.
Everyone arrested was charged with trespassing, according to Leeroy, including a couple sitting in the back of the theater not part of the protest.
In the video above filmed by another journalist that goes by LUKE2FREEDOM, Leeroy can be seen wearing his credentials in a lanyard around his neck.
In conversations with other officers, Leeroy said that they told him that “Bosses like O’Hare make us look bad.”
Inspector Robert W. O’Hare has eight allegations and seven known lawsuits against him, according to NYC Civilian Complaint Review Board. In 2010, O’Hare was reportedly involved in a “lawsuit against high ranking NYPD officials to silence, intimidate, threaten and retaliate against plaintiff for his documentation and disclosure of corruption with the NYPD.”
The most recent lawsuit against O’Hare involves a woman who alleges that her and her cousin “faced retaliation for exercising their First Amendment right to film the NYPD cops.”
Leeroy Press was suspended from Twitter after covering anti-mandate protests around New York.