by Thomas Madison
Journalists Wesley Lowery, of The Washington Post, and Ryan Reilly, of The Huffington Post, were arrested Wednesday in a Ferguson, Missouri McDonald’s, which they were using as an operating base because of its WiFi and recharging outlets.
There was no reason given for the arrests, no charges were placed, and the two were released from jail without explanation. During the arrest both journalists were handled roughly, which one of the journalists described as “assault.”
I encourage both reporters, and their newspapers, to sue, in federal court, those officers responsible for the arrests, and their departments, for the very clear and egregious violations of the First Amendment, not because the damages are so important, but because the preservation of our Constitution is so critical.
Below is a brief video of the encounter, followed by Wesley Lowery’s account, as printed in The Washington Post.
By Wesley Lowery, The Washington Post
FERGUSON, Mo. — For the past week in Ferguson, reporters have been using the McDonald’s a few blocks from the scene of Michael Brown’s shooting as a staging area. Demonstrations have blown up each night nearby. But inside there’s WiFi and outlets, so it’s common for reporters to gather there.
That was the case Wednesday. My phone was just about to die, so as I charged it, I used the time to respond to people on Twitter and do a little bit of a Q&A since I wasn’t out there covering the protests.
As I sat there, many armed officers came in — some who were dressed as normal officers, others who were dressed with more gear.
Initially, both Ryan Reilly of the Huffington Post and I were asked for identification. I was wearing my lanyard, but Ryan asked why he had to show his ID. They didn’t press the point, but one added that if we called 911, no one would answer.
Then they walked away. Moments later, the police reemerged, telling us that we had to leave. I pulled my phone out and began recording video.