We've been debating internally whether or not to cover the mess that is currently going on in Ferguson, Missouri. There has been plenty of attention paid to the protests and the failures by police there -- and we frequently cover problems with police, as well as the militarization of police, which was absolutely on display in Ferguson (if you've been under a rock, police killed an unarmed teenager there last week, leading to protests over the past few days -- and the police have been handling the situation... poorly, to say the least). However, the situation was changing so rapidly, it wasn't entirely clear what to cover. The pictures from Ferguson of a very
militarized police force were disturbing, and we've been thinking about writing something on that (and we may still). However, this evening, things got even more ridiculous, as not only did the SWAT team show up, but it then arrested two of the reporters who had been covering the events
: Wesley Lowery of the Washington Post and Ryan Reilly of the Huffington Post. Both had been vital in getting out the story of what was happening on the street.
Here are a few of their tweets (prior to being arrested):
And then, soon after those and other tweets, another reporter, Jon Swaine from the Guardian, reported that he saw two reporters detained by police in a McDonalds:
Lowery and Reilly each had live tweeted the police entering the McDonald's, followed by a long silence from their accounts:
A fourth reporter on the scene, Matt Pearce of the LA Times, contacted the police chief about the situation, who was apparently surprised at the turn of events and said he'd order them released:
Soon after, both Lowery and Reilly tweeted about their experiences, which were not exactly pleasant.
I'm sure that we'll have more on this whole thing, but as GideonsTrumpet notes, Lowery and Reilly were technically detained, not arrested
, "which is far more insidious" because there's no accountability. No charges to challenge. Nothing. It's just a way to silence the press who were diligently getting the word out there on what they were doing.
There are all sorts of very questionable activities going on in Ferguson, including intimidation and threats against the protestors exercising their right to assembly and free speech. Detaining reporters in the middle of that is just the latest in a long string of "fuck your constitutional rights" by the (very heavily militarized) police down there.