Ferguson Police Clash with the Press

by Ian Tuttle

The arrests on Wednesday evening of Washington Post reporter Wesley Lowery and Huffington Post reporter Ryan Reilly in Ferguson, Mo., amid continued clashes between area law enforcement and demonstrators, have sparked interest in the way police are treating journalists covering the ongoing tensions.

Lowery and Reilly were reporting from inside a McDonald’s on Wednesday around 8 p.m. ET when police evacuated the restaurant (the reason for the order is unclear). Via Politico:

“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 posted the following video to the Washington Post’s website on Wednesday:

Reilly claims that the police officer forcing him from the restaurant “slammed my head against the glass purposely on the way out of the McDonald’s, then sarcastically apologized for it.” There is no video of the incident to confirm Reilly’s account.

Both reporters were released shortly after their detention. No charges were filed.

Elsewhere in Ferguson, police officers in full riot gear apparently fired tear gas at an Al Jazeera news crew, forcing the crew to flee. Shortly after, police took down their film equipment, aiming the camera at the ground. Another film crew had its camera tripod struck by a beanbag. Both incidents are shown here: