Huffington Post’s Ryan Reilly and Washington Post’s Wesley Lowery were charged with trespassing and interfering with a police officer a year after being detained during the Ferguson riots. This raises troubling questions about press freedom.
Published: August 13, 2015 | Authors: Andrew Emett | NationofChange | News Report
Two journalists for the Huffington Post and The Washington Post have been charged with trespassing and interfering with a police officer nearly a year after being detained during the Ferguson riots. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), at least 11 reporters were detained in Ferguson last year while several other journalists reported being shot with police tear gas and rubber bullets. The CPJ is condemning this judicial intimidation and calling for these charges to be dropped immediately.
Four days after Officer Darren Wilson gunned down 18-year-old Michael Brown, Wesley Lowery of The Washington Post and Ryan Reilly of the Huffington Post were covering the protests and violence erupting across Ferguson, Missouri. Several reporters had been using the McDonald’s located a few blocks from the scene of Brown’s death to access WiFi and recharge their electronic devices. While charging his phone on August 13, 2014, Lowery noticed police officers in uniforms and riot gear enter.
Officers requested to see their identification before ordering Lowery and Reilly to leave. While recording the officer with his cell phone in one hand, Lowery began packing his notebook and pens with his other hand. As one officer instructed Lowery to exit to his left, another officer blocked his path and ordered him to go another way. When Lowery’s backpack began to slip off his shoulder and he asked to retrieve it, multiple officers grabbed him.
“My hands are behind my back,” Lowery told them. “I’m not resisting. I’m not resisting.” At which point one officer said: “You’re resisting. Stop resisting.”
After slamming Lowery into a soda machine, which set off the Coke dispenser, they placed him in plastic cuffs and escorted him out the door. On his way out Lowery asked Reilly to tweet about his arrest, but Reilly was arrested along with him.
I grew up not far from Ferguson, MO. In fact it was half an hour away. This morning, 18 August 2014, I read that Missouri Governor Jay Nixon ordered the MO National Guard to Ferguson to attempt to quell peoples’ outrage in that city due to the shooting of an unarmed black youth, Michael Brown, by a white policeman 9 August. He was shot six times, including twice in the head.
While going through some of my photos today, preparing for an upcoming exhibit, I came upon the photo below that I took in 1995 in Burlington, VT during protests at the National Governors’ Association Conference there. The protests helped stop the execution of political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal.
And still news commentators wonder why people take to the streets.
The caption below the photo tells more.
Two protesters are arrested attempting to blockade President Bill Clinton’s motorcade during the National Governors’ Association Conference in Burlington, VT in 1995. They were protesting to draw attention to the impending execution of political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal.
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge, who signed the Death Warrant for Mumia Abu-Jamal, attended the National Governors’ Association Conference in Burlington, VT from July 29 to August 1. Governor Ridge was targeted during four days of militant protests in support of Abu-Jamal during the conference. There were 24 arrests.
In what many believe was a frame-up for his political beliefs, activist Abu-Jamal was convicted of killing a policeman in 1981. The protesters said his “trial” was farcical, with an inadequate defense, suppression of evidence and a judge who put more people on death row–the majority them people of color–than any other judge in the U.S. The execution order was overturned, but left Abu-Jamal on death row. Mumia Abu-Jamal would have been the first political prisoner to be legally executed in this country since Ethel and Julius Rosenberg were electrocuted in 1953. Following the protests in Burlington and other cities, the death warrant was rescinded.