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


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Nov 2014 @ 8:46am

    Re: I'm sorry. I was so convinced that the sarcasm was self-evident

    The press (AKA the fifth estate) is our only protection

    Point 1: Never rely on someone else (fifth estate) to protect you from your government. Rely on yourself, and build a coalition for change from there.

    Incidentally, the fifth estate, due to the number of consolidations and mergers, has been "bought up" in large part by mega-billionaires, thereby being rendered partly impotent.

    Precisely. The press has their own agenda, and they can be bought. This is why you need to rely on yourself to foment change and not expect someone else to do it for you (see point 1).

    We all need to do whatever we can, within the law: including voting, to combat this erosion of our Rights, our Constitution, and our Ideals.

    That's the spirit. Good to see you referencing point 1 on your own. =)

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Techdirt Gear
Shop Now: Techdirt Logo Gear
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.