This posting is not about the tragic death of Michael Brown. By now everyone knows that Michael Brown, an unarmed teenager, was shot multiple times by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. Since the shooting on Saturday afternoon, the town has had numerous demonstrations protesting the death of another black teenager. This posting is about the aftermath of the shooting.
We have watched today the scenes of the police confronting Americans protesting what occurred on Saturday. From the videos that were shown on television, the protest on Wednesday night seemed peaceful until the police fired their tear gas. The police reported that rocks were thrown by the crowd. It is not clear at this point which occurred first.
We do know two facts that are undisputed. The videos show police tear gas striking reporters who had to flee the scene. We do not know if the act was intentional but we watched the police, after the reporters and cameraman fled, take charge of their equipment. The officers pointed the camera down facing the ground so that it could not record what was happening.
The videos show two reporters, one from the Washington Post, Wesley Lowery, and the other from the Huffington Post, Ryan Reilly, arrested by the police in a McDonalds. The police entered the fast food eatery and ordered all of the customers to leave the restaurant. The officers demanded the reporter’s identification. The police were not satisfied with the reporters packing their bags quickly enough and arrested both. The police have stated that both reporters were trespassing. Lowery claimed the video does not show the police slamming him into a fountain soda machine. The officers would not give the reporters their names or police ID numbers. Both reporters were released without any paperwork.
It was very troubling to see journalists manhandled by American police. Why were the police in Ferguson so afraid of journalists reporting and recording what was really happening in their town? The face of the officer was familiar to me, as I have seen the same expression on prison guards who knew they could do what they wanted no matter what the circumstances because they had the power. Unfortunately, in prison you do not have reporters and rarely have cameras to record the use of power on the helpless.
By Bradley Schwartz
Founder of prisonpath.com