Thursday, August 14, 2014


The protests and outrage in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Mo, in the wake of the shooting of an unarmed man at the hands of police also includes some of the worst violations of press freedom in many years.

First, the fact that police will not release the name of the officer who is accused of shooting the man, Micheal Brown, during the incident on August 9 is an outrage. Cops claim that the officer has received death threats and revealing his identity would endanger him.

Such concerns are likely at hand when any suspect's name is released, but that does not stop law enforcement in most cases from doing so. Also, in this instance, the accusation against someone sworn to uphold the law and in a position of power makes the information even more important for news outlets to report.

That will likely not last as at least one anonymous internet group has posted what it claims is the officer's name on Twitter. The local ACLU has also filed a formal request for the name.

In addition, with the heavy police and law enforcement presence in the small town, word that two reporters were ordered to stop recording, arrested and detained in a public restaurant also smacks of overkill and abuse of power against the press.

There is also video online of police tossing tear gas near a television crew and later taking away their lights in an area that appears to have no protesters or other need for such extreme measures. 

As this story continues, those who cover news and speak out for press rights must not accept such actions and must continue to demand full accounting of the facts and full access for reporters.

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