Ferguson Protests: Police SWAT Team Clashes With Protesters, Journalists Arrested

By @markdhanrahan m.hanrahan@ibtimes.com on
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    Demonstrators protest the police killing of Mike Brown while standing outside the St. Louis County Circuit Clerk building in Clayton, Missouri, on Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2014. Reuters
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    FERGUSON, MO - AUGUST 13: Police surround and detain two people in a car on August 13, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. Ferguson is experiencing its fourth day of unrest after following the shooting death of teenager Michael Brown on Saturday. Brown was shot and killed by a Ferguson police officer. Scott Olson/Getty Images
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    Police Chief Thomas Jackson (C) speaks during a news conference at the police headquarters in Ferguson, Missouri, on Aug. 13, 2014. Reuters/Mario Anzuoni
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    Police officers watch as demonstrators protest the death of black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri August 12, 2014. Police said Brown, 18, was shot in a struggle with a gun in a police car but have not said why Brown was in the car. At least one shot was fired during the struggle and then the officer fired more shots before leaving the car, police said. But a witness to the shooting interviewed on local media has said that Brown had been putting his hands up to surrender when he was killed. The FBI has opened a civil rights investigation into the racially charged case and St. Louis County also is investigating. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni
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    FERGUSON, MO - AUGUST 13: Police watch over demonstrators protest the shooting death of teenager Michael Brown on August 13, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. Brown was shot and killed by a Ferguson police officer on Saturday. Ferguson, a St. Louis suburb, has experienced three days of violent protests since the killing. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images) Scott Olson/Getty Images
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    FERGUSON, MO - AUGUST 13: A police officer keeps watch over demonstrators protesting the shooting death of teenager Michael Brown on August 13, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. Brown was shot and killed by a Ferguson police officer on Saturday. Ferguson, a St. Louis suburb, has experienced three days of violent protests since the killing. Scott Olson/Getty Images
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Update as of 1:15am EDT: The Wall Street Journal's White House correspondent Colleen Nelson tweets that President Obama has been briefed on the situation in Ferguson by adviser Valerie Jarrett and Attorney General Eric Holder.

Update as of 12:54am EDT: Reporter Matt Sczesny of News 4 in St Louis tweets that police have made 10 arrests in Ferguson, and that no civilians have been injured.

Update as of 12:29am EDT: Unconfirmed reports suggest that Antonio French, the alderman of St Louis' 21st ward, who has been active in covering events in Ferguson on social media, has been arrested.

Update as of 12:02am EDT: Missouri governor Jay Nixon tweeted that he was "Canceling all appearances at the @MoStateFair to visit North #STL County tomorrow. Statement to follow."

Update as of 11:52pm EDT: The Huffington Post has released a statement on the arrest of Reilly and Lowery. Ryan Grim, The Huffington Post's Washington Bureau Chief writes: "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."

Washington Post editor Martin Baron also released a statement on the arrests. He writes: "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."

Original story below

Heavily armed police in Ferguson, Missouri, have been attempting to disperse a crowd protesting the killing by police of 18-year-old Mike Brown in the city last weekend, and reportedly arrested two journalists covering the protests. 

The journalists, the Huffington Post’s Ryan J. Reilly and the Washington Post’s Wesley Lowery, both claimed to have been briefly arrested and then released without charge by law enforcement.

Reilly had earlier tweeted photos of a heavy police presence at the protests, saying that "I counted 70+ SWAT officers. Guns trained on the crowd. Insanity." Another Twitter user posted pictures of what she described as a "tank, repositioned to face protesters".

Reilly and Lowery said that they were in a nearby McDonalds when they were confronted by police. In a tweet, Reilly said “SWAT just invade McDonald's where I'm working/recharging. Asked for ID when I took photo.”

Lowery then tweeted that the pair had been “Detained, booked, given answers to no questions. Then just let out.”

He also claimed that one or both of them had been subject to an assault, saying that he had been "slammed into a soda fountain machine," and that officers had refused to give the pair their names. 

Lowery has since posted video of his arrest, which shows an officer in military-style clothing repeatedly telling the reporter "Let's go! Let's go!" 

An unverified recording of a telephone call between a Huffington Post reporter and a spokesperson for the Ferguson police has also been posted online; during the call, the officer refuses to give his last name, and then hangs up.

The policing of the protests has attracted widespread criticism on social media. A photo from the Associated Press that shows an officer pointing a high-powered rifle at protesters drew the ire of many users.

Another reporter on the ground at the protests tweeted that police had used tear gas to disperse the crowd. Andy Carvin tweeted: "Protesters, journalists all retreating as police advance down the street, firing tear gas and flash bangs."

MSNBC's Christopher Hayes tweeted that "all satellite trucks have been ordered out, so no way to get live images out for cable nets."

The Associated Press reports that violent confrontations have broken out between police and protesters, "with people lobbing Molotov cocktails at police, who responded with smoke bombs and tear gas to disperse the crowd."

This is a developing story. Check back for further updates.


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