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The PJ Tatler

by
Bridget Johnson

Bio

August 14, 2014 - 8:53 am

Two reporters were arrested at a McDonald’s last night in Ferguson, Mo., while filing their stories of the day’s protests and police action, leading to charges that authorities are violating the First Amendment rights of journalists on the scene.

Huffington Post Washington Bureau Chief Ryan Grim said Justice Department reporter Ryan Reilly was working on his laptop in the restaurant “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,” Grim said in the statement.

“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.”

The other reporter arrested, Wesley Lowrey of the Washington Post, posted his account and video on the paper’s website.

The McDonald’s, Lowrey explained, is located a few blocks from where 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot by police over the weekend, sparking the current unrest. Reporters have used the restaurant for its food, WiFi, and outlets to recharge phones and other equipment.

Wrote Lowrey of the encounter with the officers who came into the restaurant:

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.

An officer with a large weapon came up to me and said, “Stop recording.”

I said, “Officer, do I not have the right to record you?”

He backed off but told me to hurry up. So I gathered my notebook and pens with one hand while recording him with the other hand.

As I exited, I saw Ryan to my left, having a similar argument with two officers. I recorded him, too, and that angered the officer. As I made my way toward the door, the officers gave me conflicting information.

One instructed me to exit to my left. As I turned left, another officer emerged, blocking my path.

“Go another way,” he said.

As I turned, my backpack, which was slung over one shoulder, began to slip. I said, “Officers, let me just gather my bag.” As I did, one of them said, “Okay, let’s take him.”

Multiple officers grabbed me. I tried to turn my back to them to assist them in arresting me. I dropped the things from my hands.

“My hands are behind my back,” I said. “I’m not resisting. I’m not resisting.” At which point one officer said: “You’re resisting. Stop resisting.”

That was when I was most afraid — more afraid than of the tear gas and rubber bullets.

As they took me into custody, the officers slammed me into a soda machine, at one point setting off the Coke dispenser. They put plastic cuffs on me, then they led me out the door.

I could see Ryan still talking to an officer. I said: “Ryan, tweet that they’re arresting me, tweet that they’re arresting me.”

He didn’t have an opportunity, because he was arrested as well.

When they were released at the station after about 15 minutes in a holding cell, Lowrey said they asked for and were denied the opportunity to speak to a commanding officer. “The chief thought he was doing you two a favor,” they were reportedly told.

Reilly later wrote that their apparent “crime” was “not packing up our gear quickly enough after a heavily armed SWAT team shut down the McDonald’s where we were working.”

“A Saint Louis County police officer in full riot gear, who refused to identify himself despite my repeated requests, purposefully banged my head against the window on the way out and sarcastically apologized,” Reilly wrote. “I’m fine. But if this is the way these officers treat a white reporter working on a laptop who moved a little too slowly for their liking, I can’t imagine how horribly they treat others.”

“And if anyone thinks that the militarization of our police force isn’t a huge issue in this country, I’ve got a story to tell you.”

Bridget Johnson is a veteran journalist whose news articles and opinion columns have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe. Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor at The Hill, where she wrote The World from The Hill column on foreign policy. Previously she was an opinion writer and editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. She is an NPR contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, Politico and more, and has myriad television and radio credits as a commentator. Bridget is Washington Editor for PJ Media.

Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   
Yeah, because cops always act ethically.

At a recent city council meeting in the city where I live a resident was taking her allotted 3 minutes to complain about how the Mayor was acting. The Mayor didn't like what the citizen was saying, no vulgarity was used nor any libelous speech. The Mayor directed a police officer to escort the woman from the room. When she was leaving the cop intentionally pinched the woman severely eliciting an outcry, again no vulgarity. The cop then proceeded to handcuff and arrest the woman for "creating a disturbance".

The result was the city had a lawsuit for "false arrest" brought against it and had to pay a 6 figure sum.

These are the actions of those who "serve and protect".

My brother-in-law and my sister are both LEO's and in their unguarded moments will tell you that the reason they are cops are because they "get off" on pushing other people around.

14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
Nobody is defending the cops. And, that's just the point. The cops are under siege.

We don't know squat about the shooting, but we know one bullet was fired inside the squad car. If the officer was attacked and they went for his gun in the early moments of the incident, that is an assault with the probable intent to shoot a police officer. We. DON't. Know.

Then came the race riots. No matter what happened at the shooting, THOSE RIOTERS were enraged and acting out of racial animus.

The media is a consistent enemy of law enforcement. They are smug, arrogant and propagandist. They intentionally enflame racial, class, ethnic and gender warfare.

The Huffington Post and all the leftist outlets lie incessantly, slander with impunity and distort repeatedly. They are smarmy and act like entitled punks.

Ever come to an intersection and a smarmy punk with an "eff you" attitude is crossing the intersection...and intentionally walks...struts...slower just to make you wait and "take it" while he takes his sweet time?

Ever face the smug, entitled punk who is going to "show you" his disrespect for authority?

Now, I'm sure the two Little Suzy Jumpropes were completely innocent of giving the cops in a SWAT situation...attitude.

Especially when they write that "imagine "if this wasn't a white person", and " if you think cops aren't militarized"

No, that doesn't show any predilection at all. Poor little innocent dears had 15 minutes in a holding cell.

Look, cops are tested by people who hate them, slander them, lie about them, all the time. They have to hold themselves to a higher standard while being treated shabbily and given attitude.

They don't get to make out a Clinton's enemies list or send the IRS or EPA out to do their dirty work.

Sometimes the unfairness and leftist agitprop pisses them off and they act out. Especially during high tension, high adrenaline situations. And that smarmy, smug, in your face attitude gets a rise out of them.

I don't know what happened in that specific moment. But there exist reams of history detailing the attitude of leftist journalists. What had been weaponized is slander and propaganda. Now there's a story I would like to hear and read about.
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Huffington Post Washington Bureau Chief Ryan Grim said Justice Department reporter Ryan Reilly"

How do I say this…. Selective outrage?

What was their organization's coverage of Fast and Furious?

What was their organization's coverage of Hamas inside Gaza?

How about the Lois Lerner IRS scandal?

Hard for me to get my panties in a wad for them.


14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
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All Comments   (55)
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I've listened to the audio of this altercation, the law enforcement officers repeatedly told the "journalists" that they had to leave and to "move it". When law enforcement tells you move, it is always better to save your arguing for AFTER you have moved. It should be much safer then to ask your questions and do your interviews. Too many "journalists" want to manufacture the news that their "civil rights" were being denied, when what the police wanted to do was insure their safety by moving them to a different place.
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
And why were the police clearing the restaurant?

Probably to protect the patrons because of nearby unrest.

So why doesn't the usually reliable Ms. Johnson investigate that, or at least say she doesn't know?

Because it was journalists? I hope not.

Also, has it occurred to this idiot that he was creating an unsafe situation for himself and others, including the police? Why didn't he have the integrity to do due diligence and find out the circumstances surrounding the call to evacuate the building?

All of this is preening self-indulgence. Reporters should summon up their fave fantasy role model Atticus Finch and try on some cops' shoes for once. They'd come out a hell of a lot less smug and excited about imagining being persecuted by "the man," the saddest, most narcissistic little disease of the fourth estate.
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
For any who don't know her, I have never heard Tina Trent fail to metaphorically lick the boots of any police officer, no matter how blatantly egregious--or flatly criminal--their behavior was.

At least I hope it's a metaphor.
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
Please don't call them 'Reporters' give them their proper title 'DemocRAT Party Propaganda Operatives".
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
Here we go again a la OBOZO's "SON" TRAYVON MARTIN with the RACE HUSTLERS, the Lame Stream EneMedia and Left Wing MORONS promoting a Young BLACK THUG as an 'INNOCENT CHILD'. Don't they have any shame any guilty feelings - well of course they don't.
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
If you ask a military question you get a military answer. That's fine in a war zone, not so fine in American cities.
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
The most pathetic thing about this story is the commenters....who call themselves anti-left, anti-commie, pre "freedom" citizens, side with the Gestapo/Stazi abuses foisted upon innocents by the new Militarized Police....sheesh.

These "police" are not pro
tecticting...they are oppressing.
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
Just as credible as anything the ebola regime propaganda arm ever said.
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
These two punks are offended because in their minds, they are supposed to be privileged and above the law. I bet they have never written a word about Obama's abuse of power and his persecution of Conservatives.
It is all about 'ME'.
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
Why are you calling the reporters punks? What did they do to be arrested?
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
While I can't justify the actions of the SWAT team, neither can I accept the idea of two reporters "working" at a McDonalds. I guess one man's "working" is another man's loafing / loitering / etc.

File your story from your hotel rooms, you bums! That's NOT an infringement of your First Amendment rights. The SWAT team did not descend on their news van and arrest them. They did not burst into their hotel room and roust them.

Are we SURE that the McD's manager didn't call the police complaining about a bunch of people sucking up seats without purchasing anything for LONG periods of time? McDonald's is a business, not the press room or their private office.
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
We know from history police are generally thugs...look what happened in the Soviet Union and in Nazi Germany.

Police are the same everywhere...and must be kept on a tight leash.
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
I work in McDonald's all the time. They offer wifi and food and drink, and yes, I do more than just drink a coffee to justify the use of the space.

I generally don't have a high opinion of the blatantly liberal media. But I've run into plenty of thug cops who bully people and threaten (or carry out) malicious arrest prosecution to compel law abiding people to submit to their illegal and improper demands.

If the press is to be believed, this further illustrates that the police are overstepping their authority, and are the bullies and thugs they're made out to be.
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
Why shouldn't the reporters be allowed to do their jobs at a McDonalds. Your post makes no sense. You are making a case out of thin air.
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
A caller to Rush said these reporters bought a cup of coffee and expected to camp all day in McDonalds and use it as their office.

If that is true the reporters are wrong and there are some more unmentionable words that accurately describe them.
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
If McDonald's did not have a problem with them being there and it appears they didn't, then what right did the SWAT team have in making them leave?

Perhaps you don't understand the concept of "private property"
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
In one of the reporter's video, the office was asking everyone to leave McDonald's. IOW, the officer was clearing the area. The reporter first asked about his car that was parked outside, and then told the cop he wanted to interview the cop.

That's stupid. You're in the middle of a riot scene, cops tell you to leave, and you shove a camera phone in his face? That's not journalism, that's stupidity or arrogance or both.
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
Cops don't have the power of Kings......and so what if they asked for an interview...
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
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