Washington Post reporter Wesley Lowery and Huffington Post reporter Ryan Reilly were arrested in Ferguson, Missouri tonight amid more clashes between protestors and police. Both HuffPost and WaPo reacted rather strongly to the police taking such action.
The Huffington Post media page’s splash sums up rather strongly how they feel about what’s happened.
— HuffPost Media (@HuffPostMedia) August 14, 2014
Meanwhile, Reilly’s colleague and HuffPost Washington bureau chief Ryan Grim told Talking Points Memo, “We’re very glad that Ryan has been released and is doing well. But this is what happens when local police are allowed to become para-military units.”
Meanwhile, Washington Post executive editor Marty Baron issued a strong statement of condemnation. Here it is in full:
“Wesley has briefed us on what occurred, and there was absolutely no justification for his arrest.
He was illegally instructed to stop taking video of officers. Then he followed officers’ instructions to leave a McDonald’s — and after contradictory instructions on how to exit, he was slammed against a soda machine and then handcuffed. That behavior was wholly unwarranted and an assault on the freedom of the press to cover the news. The physical risk to Wesley himself is obvious and outrageous.
After being placed in a holding cell, he was released with no charges and no explanation. He was denied information about the names and badge numbers of those who arrested him.
We are relieved that Wesley is going to be OK. We are appalled by the conduct of police officers involved.”
Update- 11:34 pm: Grim has since issued this official statement on behalf of The Huffington Post:
We are relieved Ryan Reilly and Wesley Lowery are safe, but we are disturbed by their arrest and assault.
Ryan was working on his laptop in a McDonald’s near the protests in Ferguson, MO, when police barged in, armed with high-powered weapons, and began clearing the restaurant. Ryan photographed the intrusion, and police demanded his ID in response. Ryan, as is his right, declined to provide it. He proceeded to pack up his belongings, but was subsequently arrested for not packing up fast enough. Both Ryan and Wesley were assaulted.
Compared to some others who have come into contact with the police department, they came out relatively unscathed, but that in no way excuses the false arrest or the militant aggression toward these journalists. Ryan, who has reported multiple times from Guantanamo Bay, said that the police resembled soldiers more than officers, and treated those inside the McDonald’s as “enemy combatants.” Police militarization has been among the most consequential and unnoticed developments of our time, and it is now beginning to affect press freedom.
[featured image via screengrab]
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