Category: Press Releases, The Americas, USA

IPI decries police action against journalists in Missouri

North American Committee labels treatment ‘horrific and unacceptable’


Getty Images photographer Scott Olson (C) is arrested by a highway patrol officer during a protest for the shooting death of Michael Brown, in Ferguson, Missouri on Aug. 18, 2014. Olson was arrested because police required media to be within certain areas, media quoted another journalist as saying. Missouri Governor Jay Nixon lifted a curfew for the St. Louis suburb on Aug. 18 and began deploying National Guard troops to help quell days of rioting and looting spurred by the fatal shooting of the unarmed black teenager by a white policeman. REUTERS/Joshua Lott

The International Press Institute (IPI)’s North American Committee yesterday decried as “horrific and unacceptable” the treatment of journalists covering protests against the fatal shooting of an unarmed man by police in Missouri.

Numerous domestic and foreign journalists have reported that law enforcement officers in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson have threatened and arrested journalists in what the journalists claim is an effort to prevent coverage of protests that have gripped the town since a white police officer shot 18-year-old Michael Brown, who is black, on Aug. 9.

The family of Brown, who was shot six times, has labelled the death an “execution”, arguing that he was killed while raising his hands over his head in surrender following a physical altercation with the police officer. The officer reportedly claims that the shooting followed an attempt by Brown to seize the officer’s firearm.

The full text of the IPI North American Committee’s statement appears below.

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MIAMI, Aug 18, 2014 – While Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has replaced local “militarized” police officers with the State Police and National Guard, the North American Committee of the International Press Institute calls on law enforcement entities in Ferguson, Missouri to, in the future, abide by the U.S. Constitution and not impede the work of journalists covering the aftermath of the tragic death of Michael Brown.

Journalists have reported being harassed, tear-gassed, shot with rubber bullets and even jailed while on assignment in Ferguson.

“We are extremely concerned that police in Ferguson trampled on the First Amendment in their zeal to bring the situation there under control,” John Yearwood, chairman of IPI’s North American Committee, said. “We call on all law enforcement agencies operating there to respect the rights of journalists to report on conditions in Ferguson and to do so without intimidating the media.

“To see journalists in America treated with disdain and disrespect and threatened with bodily harm – much like the journalists we work so hard to protect around the world – is horrific and unacceptable.”

The North American Committee is one of 20* International Press Institute national committees. IPI is a global network of editors, media executives and leading journalists. It is dedicated to the furtherance and safeguarding of press freedom, the protection of freedom of opinion and expression, the promotion of the free flow of news and information, and the improvement of the practices of journalism.

For more information, contact John Yearwood, jyearwood[at]miamiherald.com, or +1 305 376 3467.

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*This number was corrected on Aug. 19, 2014.


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