Read this account of a WaPo reporter, Wesley Lowery, who was arrested in Ferguson while he was charging his cell phone in a local McDonalds.
FERGUSON, Mo. — For the past week in Ferguson, reporters have been using the McDonald’s a few blocks from the scene of Michael Brown’s shooting as a staging area. Demonstrations have blown up each night nearby. But inside there’s WiFi and outlets, so it’s common for reporters to gather there.
That was the case Wednesday. My phone was just about to die, so as I charged it, I used the time to respond to people on Twitter and do a little bit of a Q&A since I wasn’t out there covering the protests.
As I sat there, many armed officers came in — some who were dressed as normal officers, others who were dressed with more gear.
Initially, both Ryan Reilly of the Huffington Post and I were asked for identification. 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.
Read the whole thing. It’s very upsetting.
Police presence in Denver for the Democratic convention in 2008 was huge and very intimidating. I saw a girl step off a curb and get slammed to the ground by a couple of cops in what looked like paramilitary gear. As far as I could see, there wasn’t anything threatening about the girl’s actions. But Denver was dwarfed by the police presence in Manhattan during Occupy Wall Street. I went to Zucotti Park on several occasions to cover the protests for this blog and used a local Starbucks to charge my phone. I’ll probably never do anything like that again without a press pass (how do you get them?) but this story makes me realize that even the press is not protected anymore.
Enough is enough. Americans are not the enemy.
One more thought: Battery problems plagued me when I was in Manhattan for a variety of reasons, not least of which there are a lot of tall buildings around blocking signal, there were a lot of signals in the air dogfighting and ATT (need I say more). I’m guessing that more savvy people keep a spare charging pack in their pockets. That’s probably a good idea. Another good idea is to buy something when you go to Starbucks or MickyD’s to inhale some WiFi or amperage. I used to get at least a hot chocolate and drink it slowly to show I was legit.
Update: According to Bloomberg News, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon is ordering St. Louis County police out of Ferguson. He’s going to be making some kind of public statement soon.
Sounds like the jig is up and too many Americans are getting a good look at the militarization of the police and don’t like what they see. Just a guess.
Here’s another interesting tidbit. Representative William Lacey Clay “said that he has been urging U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to “take over the entire situation because we will not get justice forMichael Brown and his family and friends if the St. Louis County police and prosecutor have a say.””
Update 2: Oh, wow. I think Obama has given the game away. He is sooooo out of touch with what happened in Ferguson it’s not even funny. Trying to find summary of press conference but twitter consensus is that Obama cautioned Ferguson residents against looting and vandalism.
Just forget about the troop carriers and guys with rocket launchers.