The International Federation of Journalists has expressed its strong support to its member unions in the United States in their protest about the shameful treatment of journalists by a police SWAT team during the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri.
Two reporters, Ryan Reilly of the Huffington Post and Wesley Lowery of the Washington Post, were violently arrested by police in an act “wholly unwarranted and an assault on the freedom of the press to cover the news” according to Washington Post editor Martin Baron.
According to reports, Getty Images photographer, Scott Olso, was also arrested and a crew from Al Jazeera America targeted with tear gas and rubber bullets. All the journalists were later released.
“As well as teargassing the residents of Ferguson protesting the killing of unarmed teenager Michael Brown, the police conducted themselves like a military force in intimidating journalists, even ordering local news crews to leave the area. This was a shameful assault on the right of journalist to do their job of reporting what was going on in Ferguson,” said IFJ President Jim Boumelha.
“This incident is a serious attack on the right to know of US citizens and marks a significant threat to a free press that is supposed to be protected and a violation of the First Amendment.”
The IFJ supports the efforts of one of its member unions in the US, the Newspaper Guild-CWA, in seeking to meet Thomas Jackson, Ferguson Police Chief, and Ferguson Mayor, James Knowles.
In a letter (read it HERE) addressed to them by its President Bernie Lunzer and St Louis Guild’s leader, the guild protested “detaining journalists, jailing them targeting them or interfering with their work” as “unacceptable violations of their rights and responsibilities.” “Our members cannot do their work in handcuffs or holding cells.” they wrote.
For more information, please contact IFJ on +32 2 235 22 17
The IFJ represents more than 600 000 journalists in 134 countries