Following the arrests of The Washington Post’s Wesley Lowery and HuffPost’s Ryan Reilly in Ferguson, Mo., statements from both outlets have been issued. Fishbowl earlier reported that Lowery and Reilly are in Ferguson amid protests in the Missouri town after an unarmed African American teen – Michael Brown – was shot and killed by police on Saturday.
Just before 8pm on Wednesday evening, Lowery and Reilly were working from and patronizing a McDonald’s in the town when police entered, arrested and assaulted the two, who were later released without charges, paperwork or the names of the arresting officers.
HuffPost DC bureau chief Ryan Grim issued the following statement:
“We are relieved Ryan Reilly and Wesley Lowery are safe, but we are disturbed by their arrest and assault.
Ryan was working on his laptop in a McDonald’s near the protests in Ferguson, MO, when police barged in, armed with high-powered weapons, and began clearing the restaurant. Ryan photographed the intrusion, and police demanded his ID in response. Ryan, as is his right, declined to provide it. He proceeded to pack up his belongings, but was subsequently arrested for not packing up fast enough. Both Ryan and Wesley were assaulted.
Compared to some others who have come into contact with the police department, they came out relatively unscathed, but that in no way excuses the false arrest or the militant aggression toward these journalists. Ryan, who has reported multiple times from Guantanamo Bay, said that the police resembled soldiers more than officers, and treated those inside the McDonald’s as “enemy combatants.” Police militarization has been among the most consequential and unnoticed developments of our time, and it is now beginning to affect press freedom.”
The Washington Post executive editor Martin Baron also issued a statement, included in Lowery’s report late Wednesday:
“Wesley has briefed us on what occurred, and there was absolutely no justification for his arrest.
He was illegally instructed to stop taking video of officers. Then he followed officers’ instructions to leave a McDonald’s — and after contradictory instructions on how to exit, he was slammed against a soda machine and then handcuffed. That behavior was wholly unwarranted and an assault on the freedom of the press to cover the news. The physical risk to Wesley himself is obvious and outrageous.
After being placed in a holding cell, he was released with no charges and no explanation. He was denied information about the names and badge numbers of those who arrested him.
We are relieved that Wesley is going to be OK. We are appalled by the conduct of police officers involved.”