The situation in Ferguson seemed briefly like it was getting better last Thursday, but that didn't last long. Over the weekend, the militarized and threatening police fired tear gas at protestors and continued to escalate the situation, rather than de-escalate it. The governor declared a state of emergency and instituted a curfew -- which created some more problems, and resulted in continued protests, but also some looting. In the last few hours, however, things have gone from bad to worse again. Police went back to arresting journalists, including Robert Klemko
from Sports Illustrated and Rob Crilly
from the Telegraph (who, believe it or not, is the "Pakistan and Afghanistan correspondent" for that paper -- now reporting live from... Ferguson, Missouri). While both were quickly released, police appear to be quite aggressive towards reporters. Chris Hayes, the MSNBC TV host reports that he was threatened with being maced
A live stream from the local radio station KARG (Argus Radio -- which is a local volunteer run
radio station that has been doing amazing work) caught police screaming, "Get the fuck out of here or you're going to get shelled with this"
while pointing a gun at the reporter. Many reports claimed that he was saying, "You're going to get shot
," but it's pretty clearly "shelled." Not sure it really makes a huge difference.
As you can see from the video (thankfully clipped and uploaded by Parker Higgins), another police officer, "Captain Todd," claims that the lights from the reporters are the problem, not that that somehow makes it okay to point guns at reporters and threaten to "shell" them (or to arrest them). Meanwhile, Ryan Reilly of the Huffington Post reports that reporters were ordered to "leave the area and head back where we wouldn't be able to witness anything for ourselves."
All of this really ought to make people wonder: if this is how the police act when they know
the world is watching them and live streaming what they're doing, how do you think they act when no one is watching? The photos from Ferguson feel unreal, but are, in fact, quite real:
The situation has become so ridiculous that Amnesty International has sent in a human rights team
, saying this is the first time ever
that the group has done so inside the US. Think about that for a minute or two...
And then recognize that the press are almost certainly being treated significantly better
than the residents who are protesting.