Following The Arrests Of Two Journalists, A Crew Of TV Reporters Were Tear Gassed, Had Equipment Dismantled By SWAT Team For Covering The Ferguson Protests

As the protest happening in Ferguson, Missouri following the death of an unarmed teenager who was shot by a police officer, enters it’s 5th day, it appears the police are vigilantly enforcing a complete media blackout. Social media is buzzing with reports of journalists, photographers, and videographers being assaulted, shot at with rubber bullets, and arrested by the St. Louis County Police. A video from local NBC affiliate, KSDK, shows a news crew from Al Jazeera America TV being tear gassed as they attempted to report on the protest. As soon the journalists cleared out, this happened:

Screenshot of video on KSDK shows SWAT disassembling journalists camera equipment.

Screenshot of video on KSDK shows SWAT disassembling journalists camera equipment.

In case it isn’t very obvious, a SWAT team in full riot gear swooped in and began breaking down the journalists camera equipment and lighting setup. Sadly, this isn’t the only case of photographers and journalists having their rights violated while reporting on the event.

As Huffington Post and MSNBC report (see video below), Ryan Reilly, a Huffington Post journalist, and Wesley Lowery, journalist for the Washington Post, were unlawfully arrested for what appears to be on the grounds that they were not leaving a McDonald’s fast enough:

Though, Reilly’s account doesn’t necessarily have him being arrested for being a journalist, as he also mentions, it shouldn’t really matter as no laws were being broken. The arrests of the two reporters have prompted outrage among certain major news outlets. National Association of Black Journalists President, Bob Butler was quoted in a press release as saying:

“”Journalists have a constitutionally protected right to work without the government interference. We call on — and fully expect — the authorities to investigate what appears to be a violation of the First Amendment and to hold the officers involved to account, if necessary.”

The police have been expressing what appears to be a zero tolerance rule for any type of photography or news reporting whether it be from a major news source or an amateur reporter. While watching various livestreams of the events I witnessed the police telling journalists and peaceful protesters to turn off all their cameras. When the group disagrees, a line of officers and armored cars encroach on the group before unleashing tear gas on them or opening fire into the crowd with rubber bullets. Many are declaring the site to have fallen under an illegal state of martial law, as more and more accounts of journalists rights and several other civil rights issues accumulate.

To that heartbreaking end, it would be really kind if someone from the New York City Police Department could forward the memo they got earlier this week to the St. Louis County Police Department; it appears as though they can use a little guidance.

[ via Huffington Post | USAToday | KSDK ]

  • Kevin Crosby
  • Nora

    Welcome to America, largest police state ever known to mankind…

    • Alex_L_H

      Folks that pay attention to history know you’re wrong, but perhaps it just feels bigger now that it’s on your doorstep and not something a continent away you can cluck your tongue at.

  • Mike Hill

    Life of a photo-journalist is not an easy one. I have had equipment broken, smashed, and been arrested for covering protests and other things that turned into riots in my area. Press or not, lobbyists for police, swat and other officers are trying to push for bans on American citizens to not be aloud to record, document, or shoot pictures of police actions. It sickens me as much as it shocks the average photographer that does not know what it is like risking life and limb to let others know what is going on. Best advice for being a journalist or someone who documents things is stay forever neutral when documenting. Keeps you out of trouble and lets people decide for themselves what to believe.

  • Bob Mylow

    More and more the training officers are receiving is the same as the military. But I feel more military veterans would point out our oath to protect the people and the constitution. Those are the prime rules. The commander and chief and the officers over you are the least importance. Your moral compass should always be fixed at protecting human life and rights. Far to frequently the police have pulled away from the communities they have sworn to protect alienating themselves. The larger the city the farther they pull away. Many cities people fear there protectors. The war on drugs ,gangs and many other issues have drawn lines in the streets. I have law enforcement friends and family. The friends I’ve know before they joined and they have a hard times at times not letting the mentality affect there lives. Most of my family members in law enforcement we don’t even talk any more. The war on any issue mentality is the prime reason. The whole point of a war is to win. When military action fails diplomatic solutions must be found. Other solution must be found. Police need proper training but also help changing there mind set. Police are rewarded for military type drug busts and excessive use of resources by the government. DEA grants and such frequently against unarmed non-violent offenders. There given grants for equipment there department should never use against it’s citizens and training that single minded in it’s intent kill the offender. This is a situation that will continue to grow if changes are not found and used. Turning our streets into battle grounds to win an unattainable goals. Must stop.

  • BLSS

    All I will ask is that everyone look at BOTH sides of this. Look at every angle and place yourself in everyone else’s shoes please. ON another note…..Does anyone else feel that this site had become more of a photography news site rather than a “DIY” site? Just my opinion.