Dick Wolf Prods. attempted to shoot the show on Dec. 8 in Foley Square on a set designed to look like Occupy’s encampment at Zuccotti Park.
The union, which has expressed solidarity with Occupy, said Thursday it was “disappointed” when its members heard about the “mockupation,” which resulted in the revocation of the show’s filming permit and the end of location shooting for the “SVU” episode.
Lowell Peterson, exec director of the WGAE, praised Occupy as “the most energizing, progressive movement we’ve seen in a long time” but said that it was ironic that the left-leaning group chose to protest a union-approved set.
“The NYPD is probably more to blame,” Peterson said. “I don’t think the protesters went in and said, ‘Oh, let’s take the set down.’ That was the police.”
In an open letter to Occupy and the New York Police Dept., the WGAE said that the actions of both groups violated its First Amendment rights. “Freedom of speech is freedom of speech,” said the unsigned letter, “whether it is the OWS demonstrators’ right to peacefully assemble and protest without fear of retribution or ‘Law and Order’s’ ability to film in the streets of New York and tell its stories without fear of vandalism from protesters or overreaction by the police.”
It’s particularly important, Peterson said, for the WGA to make that message clear to Occupy, with which they have much in common. “In this case, the people who shut down this scene were people we agree with,” Peterson said. “If it had been the Tea Party down there, we would have said, ‘This is an outrage, you can’t allow these right-wingers to stifle free speech.’ The fact that we mostly agree with these guys makes it almost more important for us to say something. You’ve got to allow people to tell their stories.”