According to Missouri State Highway Patrol Captain Ron Johnson, journalists without “$50,000 cameras” may be detained until police deem them legitimate.
During a press conference early Tuesday morning, Johnson addressed the country on the evening’s events as Furgeson, Mo. recovered from yet another night of unrest.
After receiving repeated questions regarding the treatment of journalists, Johnson claimed that reporters peacefully filming with cameras other than those used by mainstream media outlets may be taken into custody.
“I’m going to tell you, in the midst of chaos, when officers are running around, we’re not sure who’s a journalist and who’s not, and yes, when I see somebody with a $50,000 camera on their shoulder, I’m pretty sure, but when some journalists are walking around, and all you have is a cell phone, because you’re from a small media outlet… We may take some of you into custody, but when we do take you into custody and we have found out you’re a journalist, we have taken the proper action,” Johnson said.
While Johnson alleged that journalists were not among the 31 arrests made that night, reports from several media outlets proved the statement to be false.
Intercept reporter Ryan Devereaux and a German reporter were both taken into custody by SWAT members and reportedly taken to St. Louis County jail.
A photo posted to Twitter earlier in the day showed Getty Images photographer Scott Olson being arrested by police in broad daylight.
Vice News reporter Tim Pool had his press patch ripped off his vest by an officer who said, “This doesn’t mean shit. This badge anyone can have.”
Infowars reporter Jakari Jackson, who witnessed the attack on Al-Jazeera America, was chased by an armored military vehicle firing tear gas as well.
In a seperate incident, a SWAT officer threatened to shoot KARG Arugus Radio reporter Mustafa Hussein after his camera light allegedly bothered him.
Ironically, the First Amendment does indeed grant anyone the right to film or report on government officials regardless of occupation. Despite this, Ferguson police have continued to pick and choose who they think should be granted constitutional rights.
Even though the city of Ferguson and the county and the Missouri Highway Patrol chief signed a court agreement stating that they would not attack the press late last week, the censorship and harassment of the press has only intensified.