Tell St. Louis County: Journalism Is Not a Crime
Just days after the one-year anniversary of the killing of Michael Brown, St. Louis County filed charges against three reporters who were arrested in 2014 while covering the Ferguson protests.1
Their crime? Being journalists.
During the height of the Ferguson protests last year, Wesley Lowery of the Washington Post and Ryan J. Reilly of the Huffington Post used a local McDonald’s as a base for their reporting. Police officers stormed the restaurant and ordered Lowery and Reilly to clear out. When the journalists recorded the officers’ behavior2 and didn’t move fast enough,3 Lowery and Reilly were roughed up and arrested.
Police have also filed charges against CTV Los Angeles Bureau Chief Tom Walters, who was pinned to the ground, handcuffed for three hours and detained for eight hours after he tried to ask a Missouri highway patrolman a question during last August’s protests.4
This crackdown could include charges against other journalists who were arrested in Ferguson last year. And it goes beyond traditional members of the press: Police recently arrested several prominent Black Lives Matter activists attempting to film protests in neighboring St. Louis.
We need journalists — and anyone performing acts of journalism — to act as our eyes and ears on the ground, protect our communities’ best interests and report on any abuses of power.
Demand that St. Louis County drop the charges against Wesley Lowery, Ryan J. Reilly and Tom Walters and protect all acts of journalism.
1. "Arrested in Ferguson Last Year, 2 Reporters Are Charged," New York Times, Aug. 10, 2015: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/11/us/arrested-in-ferguson-2014-washington-post-reporter-wesley-lowery-is-charged.html
2. “Statement from Martin Baron on the Arrest of Wesley Lowery,” Washington Post, Aug. 13, 2014: http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/statement-from-martin-d-baron-on-the-arrest-of-wesley-lowery/2014/08/13/a8dd6e66-235f-11e4-8593-da634b334390_story.html
3. “Statement on the False Arrest of Reporters Ryan Reilly and Wesley Lowery,” Huffington Post, Aug. 13, 2014: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/13/ryan-reilly-_n_5677060.html
4. “CTV’s Tom Walters Charged Nearly a Year After Arrest at Ferguson Protests,” CTV, Aug. 11, 2015: http://www.ctvnews.ca/world/ctv-s-tom-walters-charged-nearly-a-year-after-arrest-at-ferguson-protests-1.2512320
Original photo by Flickr user Shawn Semmler