United States press freedom deteriorating in Ferguson, elsewhere

This video from the USA says about itself:

Rubber Bullets, Tear Gas and Jail: Ferguson Police Crack Down on Journalists Covering Protests

20 August 2014

Protests over the fatal police shooting of unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown have continued for a 10th night in Ferguson, Missouri.

Protesters are calling for the arrest of Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson who shot the unarmed teenager six times, including twice in the head. According to the New York Times, Attorney General Eric Holder and top Justice Department officials are weighing whether to open a broader civil rights investigation to look at Ferguson’s police practices at large. Meanwhile the Committee to Protect Journalists has called on the Ferguson Police Department to stop harassing and detaining journalists. At least 11 journalists have been detained while covering the protests sparked by the shooting of Brown. We speak to Ryan Devereaux of The Intercept. On Monday night covering the demonstrations, he was shot by a rubber bullet, arrested and jailed overnight.

From Newsweek in the USA:

Treatment of Ferguson Reporters Knocks Down U.S. Press Freedom Ranking

By Lucy Westcott 2/12/15 at 11:00 PM

The treatment of journalists during the protests in Ferguson, Missouri, last summer was a blow against press freedom in the U.S., according to the latest World Press Freedom Index compiled by press safety and freedom group Reporters Without Borders.

The U.S.’s ranking on the 180-country index slipped for the third year in a row, dropping from 32nd place in 2012 and 2013 to 49th in 2015.

Reporters Without Borders has placed the U.S. in its “satisfactory situation” category. Malta, Niger and Burkina Faso precede it on this year’s list.

The report found that in 2014, press freedom in the U.S. was marred by the number of reporters who were “arbitrarily arrested” during weeks of protests last August in Ferguson. Protests against police brutality broke out in the St. Louis suburb following the shooting death of black teenager Michael Brown by white police officer Darren Wilson.

Eleven journalists were briefly detained in August while reporting on the protests, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), while dozens more were harmed by tear gas and rubber bullets deployed by the police. Detained journalists included Sports Illustrated’s Robert Klemko, the Telegraph’s Rob Crilly and Scott Olson, a staff photographer for Getty Images, who were all released after several hours. None were charged.

In August, CPJ deputy director Robert Mahoney called for the “harassment and detention of reporters” to stop.

“Ferguson is an international story, and journalists are going to cover it. They have a right to do so without fearing for their safety or liberty,” said Mahoney.

Reporters Without Borders also cited as concerning the continuing lack of shield laws for journalists, as well as the “judicial harassment” of a New York Times reporter involved in a years-long legal battle over whether he should reveal his sources in the leak trial of a former CIA officer charged with providing him information about a failed attempt to disrupt Iran’s nuclear program. In January, the Times reported that the reporter, James Risen, won’t be called to testify.

“Although the Obama administration backed away in that case, it continues its war on information in others, such as WikiLeaks,” the Reporters Without Borders report says, referring to an investigation that alleged that the U.S. and British intelligence agencies used covert surveillance and pressure tactics against the news-leak website and its supporters.

Neighboring Canada was listed as one of the top 10 countries for press freedom, along with Austria, Finland, Norway and Denmark. To the south, Mexico ranked 148th out of 180.

At No. 49, the United States is close to countries with “noticeable problems” with press freedom, like Haiti and Argentina. …

The European Union and the Balkans have seen the largest drop in press freedom as a region, the report said. Italy’s media are being harassed and intimidated by the country’s Mafia at the highest level since the 1990s, and Azerbaijan became “Europe’s biggest prison for news providers,” said Reporters Without Borders. Azerbaijan has 221 reporters in jail, according to CPJ.

The report ranked the United States at number 49 on press freedom, behind nations such as Burkina Faso, Niger and El Salvador. The US fell three spots from last year, and is down 32 spots from its ranking of 17 in 2002: here.

The Michael Brown memorial is still standing in Ferguson, 6 months later: here.

ACCORDING TO a report in Monday’s New York Times, the Justice Department is preparing to tell the embattled Ferguson, Mo., police department to shape up or get sued. In an impending analysis, the Justice Department will reportedly accuse Ferguson authorities of racially discriminatory practices, a move that will force them to change their behavior voluntarily or face a federal civil rights lawsuit: here.

WASHINGTON — A Justice Department investigation has found that the Ferguson Police Department discriminates against black residents and routinely violates the Constitution and federal law, an official told The Huffington Post: here.

An Egyptian judge ordered the remaining two detained al-Jazeera journalists released on bail yesterday. However their retrial on terror-related charges continues: here.

Antonio Zambrano-Montes, a 35-year-old Mexican national, was shot to death by police in Pasco, Washington last Tuesday as he was backing away from officers with his hands up. A video of the shooting clearly corroborates claims by Zambrano-Montes’s family that he was killed “execution style”: here.

PASCO KILLING STIRS RACIAL TENSIONS: “But here in Pasco, a city of 68,000 that is 56 percent Hispanic, the public killing [of Antonio Zambrano-Montes] has pierced the immigrant enclave, spurring protests that have attracted hundreds and highlighting a division between the city’s increasingly Latino populace and its power structure — the police, the city government — which remains largely white. While many Hispanics have found work and stable, if not particularly affluent, lives here, the killing has drawn attention to their lack of clout.” [NYT]

Antonio Zambrano-Montes’ Death Isn’t The First ‘Ferguson Moment’ For Latinos: here.

FOREIGN AFFAIRS: ‘THE TROUBLE WITH RACE’: The Council on Foreign Relations gives the ongoing racial tensions in America some historical and global context. [Foreign Affairs]

8 thoughts on “United States press freedom deteriorating in Ferguson, elsewhere

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