The law enforcers in Ferguson, Missouri seem determined to prove that under their rule the First Amendment has been entirely suspended. After the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) brought this point up you would think the law enforcers would back down a little bit just to create the illusion that they would respect the freedom of speech and press. Nope! Instead they decided to verbally threaten a reporter for Al Jazeera America. From the transcript of what the reporters filmed:
Officer 1: [To me] You need to take a hike.
Me: We need to shoot the sign first.
Officer 1: No, you don’t.
Me: Yeah, we do.
Officer 1: No, you don’t. You come back when it’s daylight.
Me: Sir, could you —
Officer 1: Did you hear what I said? … You want to go, we’ll go.
At this point, the officer approached me and grabbed my wrist.
Officer 1: [Holding my arm] Don’t resist. I’ll bust your ass. I’ll bust your head right here.
Me: [To JP] Are you filming this?
Officer 1: Film it! I don’t give a s—. Because you’ll go, and I’ll sure confiscate your film for evidence.
Classy. But that’s not all! As an added bonus the law enforcers all arrested a reporter for the Intercept:
Intercept reporter Ryan Devereaux was arrested this morning while on the ground covering the protests in Ferguson, Mo. According to St. Louis Post-Dispatch photographer David Carson, who witnessed the apprehension, Ryan and a German reporter he was with were both taken into custody by members of a police tactical team. They were handcuffed and placed in a wagon, and Carson was told they were being taken to St. Louis County jail.
We haven’t been able to reach officials with the St. Louis County Police Department or Ferguson Police Department to find out if Ryan has been charged, or under what pretext he was detained. But needless to say, it’s an outrage that he was stopped and handcuffed by police in the course of lawfully doing his job on the streets of Ferguson. We are trying to contact Ryan now.
I think the law enforcers in Ferguson fail to understand that we live in the era of social media and ubiquitous cameras. Silencing journalists isn’t enough to suppress a story. Any individual can take pictures and record video to post on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and other sites. Events can no longer be censored and every attempt to do so just stirs up more anger.