Journalists under police attack in Ferguson protests

Two journalists were assaulted by police and arrested in Ferguson, Missouri last night in the latest installment of an ongoing campaign to squash news coverage of the unrest following the police shooting of an unarmed 17-year-old African American, Michael Brown.  Attacks against journalists have been going on since they began covering protests triggered by the police shooting four days ago.

Ryan Riley, a reporter for the Huffington Post and Wesley Lowery, a reporter for the Washington Post, were charging cell phone and laptop batteries in a McDonald’s when a SWAT team stormed in last night and took over the fast food restaurant (in which no protests were taking place).

Police told the two reporters to cease their completely legal recording of the police invasion of the McDonald’s and both refused. Police then slammed Lowery into a soda machine and slammed Reilly’s head into a glass door.

When Lowery warned police that their actions would appear on the front page of the Washington Post the next day the policeman said, “And tonight you’ll be in my jail cell.”

The reporters were released after news of the assaults and arrests spread, via the Internet, like wildfire across the country.

Riley told MSNBC last night that the police, wearing gear normally associated with troops going to war, were acting “essentially like a military force.”

An Al Jazeera America camera crew was hit with tear gas and chased through the streets by police.

Several reporters said they were being kept like prisoners in their cars to prevent them form going out to record and report on events. Some said police were firing flash bangs at their cars to prevent them from exiting the vehicles.

A KDSK crew reported that police drew guns at them as they passed police in their truck, aiming the weaponry at the truck from which the crew was working.

President Obama, at a press conference today, said “there is no excuse for police to use excessive force against peaceful protesters or to throw protesters into jail.” And “here in the United Stares of America police should not be bullying or arresting journalists who are just trying to do their jobs.”

He said he has ordered the Justice Department and the FBI to investigate the death of Michael Brown.

Photo: AL Jazeera in America clmera crew under teargas attack in Ferguson.  Jeff Roberson/AP


John Wojcik
John Wojcik

John Wojcik is Editor-in-Chief of People's World. He joined the staff as Labor Editor in May 2007 after working as a union meat cutter in northern New Jersey. There, he served as a shop steward, as a member of a UFCW contract negotiating committee, and as an activist in the union's campaign to win public support for Wal-Mart workers. In the 1970s and '80s, he was a political action reporter for the Daily World, this newspaper's predecessor, and was active in electoral politics in Brooklyn, New York.