Ferguson Police Arrest Yet Another Journalist, Ignoring Direct Court Orders
from the because-that's-how-they-roll-in-Ferguson dept
Back in the summer, we had a few stories about the police in Ferguson arresting reporters. In response to that, the police signed a court agreement promising not to interfere with the media — which they ignored the very same day. More recently, a court found that the “5 second rule” that police had made up as part of enforcing a “failure to disperse” law was unconstitutional, but it would appear that the police still don’t care.
Over the weekend, police in Ferguson arrested yet another journalist, Trey Yingst. The St. Louis County Police Department said he was arrested for (you guessed it) “failing to disperse” when commanded to do so. Specifically, the police say he was in the street and refused to leave.
— St. Louis County PD (@stlcountypd) November 23, 2014
However, multiple eyewitnesses, including other reporters, dispute that claim and point out that he was on the sidewalk:
— Jon Swaine (@jonswaine) November 23, 2014
Police arrested this man after he said he was a journalist standing on the side walk outside the ferguson police dept pic.twitter.com/AG46fMTyOv
— Alex Wroblewski (@alexwroblewski) November 23, 2014
— Ryan J. Reilly (@ryanjreilly) November 23, 2014
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the [police] shall not enforce or threaten to enforce any rule, policy, or practice that grants law enforcement officers the authority or discretion to arrest, threaten to arrest, or interfere with any individual, including any member of the media or member of the public photographing or recording in public places unless that person is threatening the safety of others or physically interfering with the ability of law enforcement to perform their duties.
One of the other orders, directly targeting the County of St. Louis states [pdf]:
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Defendant County of St. Louis, Missouri, its officers, agents, servants, employees, attorneys, and all persons under their supervision, or within their control, are permanently enjoined from interfering with individuals who are photographing or recording at public places but who are not threatening the safety of others or physically interfering with the ability of law enforcement to perform their duties.
Of course, this is in Ferguson, Missouri, where people have been gathering all weekend to await the grand jury results concerning officer Darren Wilson, who shot and killed Mike Brown in August, setting off the widespread protests. And, in Ferguson, it seems that basic concepts in law no longer apply — even when courts directly call the police out on them. And, of course, officials in Ferguson have been especially obnoxious towards the press. Beyond just basic stonewalling and threatening/arresting multiple reporters, officials in Ferguson have tried to avoid releasing documents by putting ridiculous price tags on FOIA requests and even requesting a no fly zone to block out press aircraft (while pretending it was for “safety”). Is it really any wonder they’d continue to ignore direct court orders in order to harass and intimidate journalists?