Reporting the events by the news media in Ferguson, MO has become very problematic with the police limiting not only the press access to the demonstrations on the ground but the Federal Aviation Administration has created an unprecedented “no fly zone” over the town. The excuse is “to provide a safe environment for law enforcement operations.” The same reasoning was given repeatedly by Missouri Highway Patrol Captain Ron Johnson who has also threatened and ordered arrests of reporters.
The situation was so bad last week that on August 14 the ACLU sued the town and county and won a court order from a judge telling police that they cannot bar journalists from reporting which was promptly ignored.
Why is this happening? Of course the police excuse is that they are “protecting” the reporters and have also made the unsubstantiated accusation that the press is interfering with police operations. The real reason is they don’t want a free press to record any brutality on the part of the police in containing the demonstrators, peaceful or otherwise. Nor do they want the entrapment tactics, like blocking egress at both ends of the streets refusing to allow protestors to exit, then arresting them when they try to pass through to go home.
The bogus press conference that Capt. Johnson held in the wee hours of Tuesday morning, displaying a Molotov cocktail and other items confiscated from alleged “agitators,” was contrived to justify the use of tear gas, smoke bombs, rubber bullets and other military type weapons. It was fairly obvious from a trained observer that the way the “evidence” was handled – no gloves – and displayed – not bagged and tagged – that these were just props in the side show. Yes, capt Johnson, I call you on your preprocessed bovine waste (thank you, John Oliver).
With 11 journalists arrested thus far, Truthout.org investigative reporter Mike Ludwig describes how Ferguson police are using intimidation tactics against journalists.
Transcript can be read here