Saturday, March 11, 2017

When UN Evicted Inner City Press, They Filmed It All, Dumped Five Boxes of Files on 1st Ave

By Matthew Russell Lee, SeriesVideo III

UNITED NATIONS, March 8 –  On the day the UN had set to finally evict Inner City Press at 8:45 am I called and reached the only one-man show I could: Dan Purcell, the guy who'd gotten banned from the UN for asking to attend public meetings. I thought it'd be ironic, a person banned  from the UN having to be let into it for this. He came from the 46th Street public library; we met in the 43rd Street Park I'd covered the UN from.  The guards at the traffic circle wouldn't let us in. One told me, they are waiting for you, Matthew, up at the 46th Street entrance.

   Dan started filming with his phone; I ranted up First Avenue, pointing at the US Mission. The guards at 46th Street were in fact waiting. “This is the guy you're bringing?” they asked. I said yes. “Tell him to stop filming,” I was told.  I shook my head. I'm getting evicted, I told them. I get to film it.

 We walked in through the lobby, up the escalator to the third floor. There were a half-dozen UN security guards there, who recoiled when they saw Dan filming. There were moving men from the UN's FMS, Facilities Management Service. Let's do this thing, I told them with (false) bravado. Having Dan there helped me.

  I hadn't been inside my office for a while, and it was full. There were stacks of books, including Samantha Power's A Problem from Hell and Chasing the Flame (I'd witnessed a cheesy event in the UN Delegates Dining Room, HBO trying to option the book, complete with wine and cheese spread. I called my article “fondue.html” -- chasing the flame with cheese cubes.)

  I started filling boxes, cardboard moving boxes marked with a blue UN symbol. Some stuff I threw in garbage bags, like Samantha Power's books. Dan recorded as long as he could, until his battery ran out. He kept a little bit of charge, he said, to film the end-game. Meanwhile MALU set up a camera in my office, filming the whole thing. Here it is on YouTubehere with my Periscope.

 I filled boxes with files, leaked OIOS audits I hadn't yet published, files from Ban Ki-moon's trips. Soon it was three p.m., and they wanted me out. Just let me wipe up the table, I told them, for whatever next sucker you'd put in here. (Actually, Ban's Spokesman Dujarric had said, and would tell me again, that my office wouldn't be given out - lying as it turned out.) I used white paper towels, left it all broom-clean...

 Suddenly the moving dollies with boxes on them, shrunk wrapped, were being rolled back to the elevator. More walking, less talking, like the man [Deputy Chief McNulty] said. We were in the lobby - I shouted some invective, Dan still seemed to have power - then out on the traffic circle. I was pushing one of the dollies, an FMS guy the other. We went through the same gate as I'd been pushed out of on February 19.

 I saw one of Ban's officials, his fellow South Korean Kyung Wha Kang, flagging down a taxi. I ran over to her. I want you to be a witness, I told her. I am being evicted by Ban Ki-moon.

 She recoiled, but was more professional than most. She nodded and got in her cab.

Back on the sidewalk, I told the guards, it's fine, just drop me here. I ranted to Dan, set up my laptop on the boxes. Could we call a press conference? It was too late.