Last night, the Intercept’s Ryan Devereaux and Lukas Hermsmeier, a reporter for the German newspaper Bild, were among those arrested (or detained, as authorities are calling it) during the escalating protests over Michael Brown’s shooting in Ferguson, MO. Getty Images photographer Scott Olsen was also taken into custody. A few days earlier, the Huffington Post’s Ryan Reilly and the Washington Post’s Wesley Lowery were also arrested in Ferguson. No charges have been brought against any of the journalists, but the pretext for all four arrests appears to be a “failure to disperse” quickly enough.
Each reporter was subsequently released, but it’s deeply disturbing that, in the United States in 2014, journalists are facing intimidation and threats from authorities for, from all reports, merely doing their constitutionally-protected jobs. I understand that, particularly on nights like last night when live ammunition was reportedly fired leaving an unidentified man in critical condition, certain areas must be secured for the safety of citizens. But arresting and intimidating journalists, who have a right to report on the events unfolding on the ground, doesn’t make anybody safer.
Captain Ron Johnson of the Missouri Highway Patrol told the Washington Post, “We may take some of you into custody, but when we do take you into custody and we have found out that you are journalists we have taken the proper action.”So then why were Devereaux and Hermsmeier not released until this morning even though, according to Intercept editor-in-chief John Cook, the pair had yelled, “Press! Press!” upon being apprehended by police?
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