Activists behind NY Post parody detained by police

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The New York Post does not have a sense of humor about itself, it would seem.

Early this morning, some 2,000 activists affiliated with a group called The Yes Men handed out copies of a 32-page parody issue calling attention to climate change. But when volunteers tried to distribute copies outside the Post's offices, they were detained by police and their papers were confiscated, says an eyewitness.

Photographer Jason Nicholas was taking pictures of Yes Men volunteers outside Grand Central Terminal when he got a text message letting him know there was an incident in progress at the News Corp. headquarters building on Avenue of the Americas about 10 blocks away. Nicholas raced to the scene in time to see police officers detaining three volunteers who had been handing out copies.

"They seized the papers that those guys were distributing" and took them inside the building, says Nicholas, who has photos of the confrontation. "It seemed they were acting in concert with building security because I noticed them talking before and after." Nicholas estimates the volunteers were held for 15 to 20 minutes. He could not say whether they were handing out papers on the sidewalk or on the concrete apron that fronts the News Corp. building.

A New York Post spokesman wasn't immediately available for comment.

The parody issue was distributed today to raise awareness in advance of tomorrow's United Nations talks on climate change. Yes Men co-founder Andy Bichlbaum says the group printed about 1 million copies at a cost of $50,000; the expense was underwritten by a private donor who prefers to remain anonymous.

Last fall, The Yes Men produced a fake New York Times edition about the Iraq War. Bichlbaum says the group chose the Post for its global warming stunt in part because of the paper's denialist stance on the issue. "Unfortunately, they never do real reporting on climate change," he says. "We're hoping this gives them the little kick in the ass that they need."

Update: I've contacted the NYPD press office to ask why the volunteers were detained, on what grounds their papers were confiscated and whether they'll be returned. I haven't heard back yet.
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