This is an incredible indictment of the “law enforcement” separation from the reality of community that causes things like the shooting initiating the uproar and the continued rioting to occur. When you have a bunch of people who are outraged, and then you treat people who are outwardly identified as reporters treated in the manner described below, it’s pretty difficult to expect things to get better any time soon. I just hope this doesn’t spill over across the country and end up as some kind of repeat of the 1960’s race riots.
Please read the article below. It clearly illustrates the level of disconnection held by entirely too many police across this country.
Close By DYLAN BYERS and HADAS GOLD | 8/13/14 8:53 PM EDT
Reporters from The Washington Post and the Huffington Post were arrested in Ferguson, Mo., on Wednesday night while covering the protests that have rocked the St. Louis suburb.
Wesley Lowery, a Washington Post political reporter, and Ryan Reilly, a Huffington Post justice reporter, were arrested in a McDonalds shortly before 8 p.m. ET. Police entered the restaurant and told patrons there to leave, the reporters wrote on Twitter after their release. The police then asked Lowery and Reilly for their identification and, according to the reporters, arrested them because they weren’t packing their bags fast enough.
Lowery also said the police officers “assaulted” him. “Officers slammed me into a fountain soda machine because I was confused about which door they were asking me to walk out of,” he wrote on Twitter. Lowery also said that he and Reilly were released without paperwork or charges, and that the officers refused to provide the reporters with their names.
Ferguson has been the site of protests since the death of Michael Brown, an 18-year-old African-American who was shot several times by an officer. The chief of police there has refused to disclose the identity of the officer in question, citing safety concerns. According to The Associated Press, the officer “has received numerous death threats, and the chief worries that disclosing his name would endanger [him].”
Both Lowery and Reilly have not responded to requests for email.
Martin Baron, the executive editor of The Washington Post, said late Wednesday night that “there was absolutely no justification for [Lowery’s] arrest.”
“He was illegally instructed to stop taking video of officers. Then he followed officers’ instructions to leave a McDonald’s — and after contradictory instructions on how to exit, he was slammed against a soda machine and then handcuffed,” Baron said in a statement. “That behavior was wholly unwarranted and an assault on the freedom of the press to cover the news. The physical risk to Wesley himself is obvious and outrageous.”
“After being placed in a holding cell, he was released with no charges and no explanation,” Baron continued. “He was denied information about the names and badge numbers of those who arrested him. We are relieved that Wesley is going to be OK. We are appalled by the conduct of police officers involved.”
According to the Washington Post, both reporters were taken to a police car where a member of the clergy was also being held, and then transported to a holding cell at the Ferguson police station. The Ferguson police chief was reportedly alerted to their arrests by Matt Pearce, a reporter for the Los Angeles Times. Pearce tweeted that when he informed the police chief of the reporters’ arrest, the chief answered “Oh God” and said the riot police were from St. Louis County and likely “didn’t know any better.”
About a half an hour after arriving at the holding cell, Lowery and Reilly were released without any charges filed, the Post reports.
In an article, the Huffington Post confirmed that Reilly “was arrested Wednesday while covering the protests in Ferguson.”
“Reilly tweeted at around 8:00 P.M. EDT that SWAT officers invaded the McDonald’s at which he was working, requesting his identification after he took a photo of them,” the statement read. “The Washington Post’s Wesley Lowery was also working at the fast food restaurant.”
Reached by phone, an operator for the Ferguson Police Department would neither confirm nor deny Lowery and Reilly’s arrest.
“I have no information,” the operator said several times.
In an interview with MSNBC following his release, Reilly called the police officers’ mentality “extremely disturbing.”
“It was madness,” Reilly said. “[The officers] asked us to begin packing up our stuff. Evidently I was not moving quickly enough for their liking, at which point I was given a countdown, I was told I had 45 seconds, 30 seconds, pack up all my stuff and leave, at which point the officer in question… held me back, grabbed my things and shoved them into my bag, and basically he then arrested me. He hancuffed me… he used his finger to put a pressure point on my neck.”
“He would not tell me what I was under arrest for…he was in complete SWAT gear,” Reilly continued. “The most frustrating thing…I repeatedly asked over a dozen times for his name or ID number was never given it… The worst part was he slammed my head against the glass purposely on the way out of the McDonalds then sarcastically apologized for it.”
“It was just a terrible experience,” he continued. “I recognize I’m in sort of a place of privilege here both as a journalist and as a white person frankly, in that evidently the police chief made the decision to not hold us. … The mentality of the officers was extremely disturbing. They essentially acted as a military force.”
Reilly told MSNBC he was “not 100 percent sure” whether he identified himself as a reporter, but said he identified himself as a journalist after being handcuffed.
Lowery also appeared on MSNBC shortly after Reilly and provided an account of the arrest.
“As I was packing my bag videotaping with one hand, he was angry I wasn’t moving fast enough or what not, I put my backpack on tried to walk out, from the corner I could see Ryan having the same type of interaction,” Lowery said. “As I turned the corner I tried to ask him… ‘Am I going to be able to move my car?’ They didn’t want to answer that question. They directed me toward one door where I encountered another officer who directed me to another door, I said, ‘Officers, where would you like me to go.’ As I turned to follow their instructions, my bag slipped off my shoulder. I said. ‘Officers, I’m going to need to stop to adjust my bag, give me one second,’ at which point they said ‘Let’s take him,’ slammed me into the soda machine, grabbed my bag, grabbed my phone and put me in temporary restraints and took me outside.”
Lowery said he was wearing his Washington Post credentials on his neck at the time of the arrest.
On Twitter, Lowery wrote, “Apparently, in America, in 2014, police can manhandle you, take you into custody, put you in cell & then open the door like it didn’t happen.”