St. Louis County Still Considering Bringing Trespassing Charges Against Journalists Police Arrested In Ferguson

from the that-would-be-a-bad-idea dept

One of the side stories over the Ferguson protests from last summer was the fact that the over-aggressive militarized police went in and arrested journalists who were covering the events in Ferguson. Two of the first journalists arrested were Ryan Reilly of Huffington Post and Wesley Lowery of the Washington Post. At the time, we highlighted how they had tweeted the lead up to their own arrests:


A third reporter, Matt Pearce from the LA Times witnesses some of what happened and called the police chief -- and was told that it was all a mistake and that he had ordered the reporters released. After being released, Lowery and Reilly talked more about the ridiculousness of being arrested for, essentially, not getting out of the McDonalds fast enough:
Given all that, you might think the local police would let the matter drop (though, if I were Lowery or Reilly I'm not sure I would have let them just drop it...). But, no, apparently the St. Louis County police are now debating whether to bring trespassing charges against the two reporters:
St. Louis County prosecutors will soon decide whether to bring trespassing charges against two journalists arrested while covering demonstrations last summer in Ferguson, Missouri.

The Huffington Post’s Ryan Reilly and The Washington Post’s Wesley Lowery recently learned that there are open investigations related to their Aug. 13, 2014, arrests and that the cases have been referred to the county counselor's office, which primarily handles local ordinance violations. The St. Louis County Police Department filed incident reports in late April of this year describing the reporters as trespassing when they were seized at a McDonald's restaurant.
I'm trying to envision a scenario where this whole thing doesn't backfire in a ridiculous way for the St. Louis County police and prosecutors, and I'm struggling to find any possible way for them not to come out of this looking absolutely terrible. Both Lowery and Reilly are quick to point out how ridiculous the whole thing is:
"Ryan and I have maintained from day one that our detention was unwarranted, unnecessary and illegal," Lowery said in an email. "The idea that the prosecutor’s office would consider bringing formal charges in this incident is ludicrous. Officials in St. Louis County should drop this matter, release the relevant documents and allow us all to move on with our lives and onto more important elements of this story."

"Wesley and I did nothing wrong in this scenario, which occurred shortly after officers with the St. Louis County Police Department trained sniper rifles at a crowd of peaceful protesters in broad daylight," Reilly said in an email.
The article linked above notes that both reporters have continued their investigations into their own arrests, and have faced stonewalling at every turn, including police trying to deny their requests to find out the names of the officers who assaulted and arrested them. Moving forward with actual bogus "trespassing" charges would be not just adding insult to injury, but would, once again, call the world's gaze to St. Louis County and whatever the hell it is they call "justice" down there.

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  1. icon
    sigalrm (profile), 16 Jul 2015 @ 1:41pm

    Re: Trespassing

    "That's a nice McDonalds you got there. Be a shame if something were to happen to it. You know how long emergency service response times can be in this area...."

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