The production of "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" was forcefully shut down when more than 100 Occupy Wall Street (OWS) protesters stormed in the set. The NBC series was filming an OWS-themed episode and the protesters saw the set across Manhattan State Supreme Courthouse as a stage for political theater.
"We made it so that they could not exploit us and that's awesome," said Tammy Schapiro of Brooklyn. Another Brooklyn native, Aaron Black said, "We thought we would bring some extras down and add some reality to this show. Why should they be able to put tents up in a public park when we are unable to do that?"
The crew of "SVU" started building a set that looks like the encampment that the real protesters erected in Zuccotti Park, which has been cleared by police last month. There were tarps and tents in the square complete with protest signs such as "End War on Workers", "Greed No" and "War Profiteers."
The protesters came to the set around midnight on Thursday, December 8 and roamed around. Beside inspecting the set, they also stayed inside the tents, waved flags and pounded drums. They ignored the crew's objection until 100 police officers secured the area and threatened to arrest them if they did not leave.
After midnight, the city announced that "SVU" did not have a permit to build the encampment, only a permit for filming beginning at 8 A.M. Friday. It drew cheers from the crowd. As the protesters left, the production crew moved in and started knocking down the set.
NBC has not responded to the incident but Warren Leight, the show's executive producer posted on Twitter, "Saddened by last night's events. We understand OWS emotions run high and also protesters' fear of having their images and history co-opted by corporate media - the irony here is the scene we couldn't shoot portrayed OWS in a sympathetic light. And harassing night-shift production assistants. Those are not the images of OWS we wanted our audience to see."
Wright concluded, "Let's move forward. Peace," but later removed the tweets.