IFJ angered by shameful treatment of journalists in Ferguson, Missouri
21 August 2014
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has expressed its strong support for 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.
Jim Boumelha, IFJ president, said:
"As well as tear-gassing 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.
"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 by President Bernie Lunzer and St Louis Guild’s leader, the guild protested at the "detaining [of] 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," the Newspaper Guild said.