Police In Ferguson Set Up No-Fly Zone Solely To Keep Journalists Out, According To FAA Audio Recordings

from the that-thing-you-suspected?-yeah,-it's-true dept

A few more details have come to light on the police state experiment conducted in Ferguson, MO over the past couple of months. Despite repeated denials that continued all the way up until October 31st, the real reason for the FAA's no-fly zone over Ferguson has been revealed.
"They finally admitted it really was to keep the media out," said one FAA manager about the St. Louis County Police in a series of recorded telephone conversations obtained by The Associated Press. "But they were a little concerned of, obviously, anything else that could be going on.

At another point, a manager at the FAA's Kansas City center said police "did not care if you ran commercial traffic through this TFR (temporary flight restriction) all day long. They didn't want media in there."
Law enforcement put FAA staffers in an awkward position with this request. The FAA (obviously) has nothing in the rule books that provides for blocking First Amendment-protected activity. While there would be the heightened danger of collisions if police helicopters were also in the area, it's not like this sort of situation hasn't been handled without incident before. (See also: news coverage of every demonstration/riot/police pursuit to this point.)

No, law enforcement simply wanted to keep news coverage to a minimum and control the narrative through the indiscriminate use of tear gas, a ridiculous (and unconstitutional) "five second rule" and the casual detainment of reporters at ground level.

St. Louis police claimed over and over and over again that the no-fly zone was for "safety," citing a single incident where a police helicopter was allegedly shot at -- an incident that only existed in the minds of those looking to keep the press from circling overhead.
[P]olice officials confirmed there was no damage to their helicopter and were unable to provide an incident report on the shooting. On the tapes, an FAA manager described the helicopter shooting as unconfirmed "rumors."
Small concessions were made when law enforcement realized what it was asking for was impractical (and mostly illegal). As one news director pointed out, his crew was eventually told it could fly over Ferguson but only at an altitude above 3,000 feet -- not exactly a height that produces optimal (or even usable) footage.

Whatever your stance on the shooting of Michael Brown by Officer Darren Wilson, the fact remains that nearly everything local law enforcement did in response was poorly thought-out at best, and an outright abuse of power at worst. Officials have lied to the public, paywalled public documents, released information in a purely self-serving fashion (and over the objections of Eric Holder and the Justice Dept.) and approached the citizens they serve as an occupying force, rather than trusted allies.

Filed Under: ferguson, journalism, media, missouri, no fly zone, police state

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  1. icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 3 Nov 2014 @ 3:58am

    When those charged with upholding the law do not want anyone watching, it should be a real wakeup call.
    This force has lied repeatedly, the little integrity they had was traded off so they could tear gas them uppity citizens who dared get upset about a historic pattern of abuse & coverup by the department.

    Perhaps it is time to look at the whole picture, rather than the single event that was finally enough. Trying to paint this outpouring of citizen rage & police coverup as being just because of 1 incident is the 'easy' solution, that will solve nothing.

    The wrongdoing by this force should be investigated, and the fact that it has been given a pass so many times before needs to cause serious discussion why the word of police is taken above citizens at all considering the number of times they have lied to everyone. They have lied to courts, they have lied to those who pay them, they have lied at every turn. They can no longer effectively do their job, they have destroyed the public trust by their actions, deeds, & coverups. A badge needs to stop being a free pass to do things that would land a regular citizen in jail facing serious charges. 'Fear of their safety' is an amazing cop out to cover up a multitude of sins and needs to stop.

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