Journalists persecuted for journalism in Ferguson, USA

This video from the USA says about itself:

Journalists Charged After Reporting In Ferguson

11 August 2015

Two reporters, from Huffington Post and The Washington Post, were arrested last year while covering the protests. They were typing on their laptops in a McDonalds when cops ordered them out and roughed them up a bit. The journalists have now been charged with trespassing and interfering with a police officer’s performance. John Iadarola (Think Tank) and Jimmy Dore (The Jimmy Dore Show Podcast), hosts of the The Young Turks, break it down. …

“Reporters from The Huffington Post and Washington Post have been charged with trespassing and interfering with a police officer’s performance, a chilling setback for press freedom coming nearly a year after their arrests in Ferguson, Missouri…

Police claimed the journalists, who were covering the unrest that followed the police killing, didn’t leave the restaurant fast enough. Reilly described a police officer shoving his head against glass during his arrest, while Lowery said an officer pushed him into a soda machine. Both Lowery and Reilly were quickly released and not charged with any crime at the time.”*

Read more here.

By Arthur Delaney in the USA:

The Charges Against Ryan Reilly And Wesley Lowery Are So Dumb

Police said Reilly “moved his belongings around in an inefficacious manner.”

08/17/2015 02:55 PM EDT

WASHINGTON — After taking almost an entire year to think about it, prosecutors in St. Louis County, Missouri, decided it was a good idea to press charges against two journalists for allegedly not leaving a restaurant fast enough.

They may be the only ones to think so. Press advocates have denounced the case against Ryan J. Reilly of The Huffington Post and Wesley Lowery of The Washington Post.

But local law enforcement apparently sees more here than meets the eye — that is, a couple of reporters not exiting McDonald’s as quickly as the police wished.

The 33-page police report associated with the incident asserts that the journalists’ “unlawful actions” at McDonald’s “directly contributed” to the civil unrest in Ferguson last August.

That document, which was written by the St. Louis County Police Department more than six months after the fact, goes to great lengths to establish the presence of the New Black Panther Party — as well as various anarchists and communists — not actually in the McDonald’s, but in the general area at the time. “Incident Command determined it would be prudent to warn the citizenry” that “the presence of members of a known domestic terrorist group” would hamper police response to 911 calls, the report states.

The civil unrest in Ferguson, as you may recall, followed a police officer shooting and killing an unarmed black man. Not long before Reilly and Lowery were arrested, police were pointing sniper rifles at peaceful protesters in broad daylight.

The two reporters, who were covering the protests and the police response, argue the charges are ridiculous.

“We’ve been out here discussing this in part because it’s so ridiculous and also in part because for so long they wouldn’t give us any police report, they wouldn’t give us any information,” Lowery said on HuffPost’s “So, That Happened” podcast late last week. Scroll to 24:20 in the podcast to hear the interview.

Reilly finally obtained the police report and its claims of a domestic terrorist threat last week.

“This sounds like an FBI file from the 1960s,” he said on the podcast.

The police report also stresses that the manager of the McDonald’s wanted the police to hassle his customers. McDonald’s manager Keith Eyer “agreed the restaurant should close for the safety of all concerned and requested the assistance of the police department in asking the remaining patrons to leave the premise.”

Lowery doubts that’s true from his own observations that day.

“What seems more likely in terms of the way police were behaving during that time is they came in and said, ‘Listen, we’re going to close your restaurant down,'” Lowery said. “And the manager said, ‘OK, whatever, guys.'”

McDonald’s Corporation said on Twitter that it didn’t ask for anyone to be arrested. That should be harder for prosecutors to argue that Reilly and Lowery were trespassing in a private establishment if the establishment didn’t want them to leave.

Not that Reilly and Lowery refused to leave. The main problem alleged was that they just weren’t moving fast enough for the officers on the scene.

“Rather than pack his belongings to leave, Mister Reilly simply moved his belongings around in an inefficacious manner,” the report says. “Officer [Michael] McCann then packed Mister Reilly’s bag for him in a further effort to assist him in leaving the restaurant. When it became apparent that Mister Reilly was not going to leave as directed, Officer McCann placed Mister Reilly under arrest for trespassing.”

One detail the report omits: Reilly said that while he was handcuffed, the officer slammed his head into a window and then sarcastically apologized for it.

Likewise, Lowery allegedly lollygagged when police told him to stop his legal video recording of their interaction and leave the McDonald’s.

“While Mister Lowery did not cease to record, he did begin to move, though slowly,” the report says. “Mister Lowery turned and began to walk past the soda machines as if it was his intention to leave through the north door. However, when he reached the soda machine, he attempted to put his bag down and stopped. He then directed his recording in the direction of Officer McCann and Mister Reilly, indicating that he was not going to leave the restaurant.”

Jonathan Peters, an attorney and press freedom correspondent for the Columbia Journalism Review, called the charges “bullshit.”

The Huffington Post similarly considers the charges outrageous. “A crime was committed at the McDonald’s, not by journalists, but by local police who assaulted both Ryan and Wesley Lowery of The Washington Post during violent arrests,” D.C. bureau chief Ryan Grim and senior politics editor Sam Stein said in an earlier statement.

Reilly and Lowery have a hearing scheduled in their trespassing case next week.

Nearly 40 news organizations have signed onto a letter condemning recent charges against two reporters who were arrested at a Ferguson, Missouri McDonalds a year ago while covering the protests that followed the police killing of Michael Brown: here.

Media Outlets Protest Criminal Charges Filed Against Journalists Last Year in Ferguson: here.

McDonald’s Silent On Trespassing Charges Against Journalists At Ferguson Restaurant. Even as free press advocates and a St. Louis County prosecutor speak out: here.

Prosecutors Finally Dropped Their Bogus Charges Against Me For Reporting In Ferguson. Not Everyone Is So Lucky. A nine-month battle with St. Louis County’s broken justice system was punishment on its own: here.

“Donald Duck” unmasked: Mystery cop who helped arrest reporters in Ferguson revealed: here.

27 thoughts on “Journalists persecuted for journalism in Ferguson, USA

  1. Grand juror in Michael Brown case appeals gag order on panel


    Aug. 17, 2015 11:52 AM EDT

    ST. LOUIS (AP) — A member of the grand jury that declined to indict a white Ferguson police officer in the shooting death of Michael Brown is challenging a federal judge’s dismissal of her lawsuit that sought to allow her to speak publicly about those secret proceedings.

    That woman, identified only as “Grand Juror Doe,” wants the St. Louis-based 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn U.S. District Judge Rodney Sippel’s May decision to toss her bid to speak out about her time on the panel.

    Sippel sided with lawyers for St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch in ruling the former grand juror needs to go to a state court for permission to talk publicly. Her lawsuit in state court is scheduled for a hearing Tuesday.

    McCulloch’s spokesman didn’t immediately respond to a message seeking comment Monday.

    The lawsuits have claimed McCulloch mischaracterized the jury’s findings when he announced last November that the panel declined to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the August 2014 shooting death of 18-year-old Brown, who was black and unarmed. That shooting — and the grand jury’s clearing of Wilson — fueled protests that at times turned violent in a case that spawned the national “Black Lives Matter” movement.

    Grand Juror Doe’s lawsuits, filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri, allege McCulloch wrongly implied all 12 jurors believed there was no support for any charges. Under Missouri law, an indictment requires agreement by nine of the panel’s dozen members, and grand jurors are sworn to secrecy under the threat of contempt or other charges.

    Wilson, who since has resigned, also was cleared by a Justice Department investigation.

    Grand Juror Doe insists her experiences on the panel — it met on 25 days over three months, hearing more than 70 hours of testimony from about 60 witnesses — “could aid in educating the public about how grand juries function” and help advocate for changing how grand juries are conducted in Missouri.

    An unresolved lawsuit on behalf of a reporter for The Guardian newspaper is pressing a judge to force McCulloch’s office to make public his emails during the months the grand jury was empaneled. And four activists also are asking a Missouri appellate court to overturn a St. Louis County judge’s ruling last month that tossed out their lawsuit seeking a special prosecutor to review the way McCulloch oversaw the process.


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