Washington Post reporter Wesley Lowery reports on his own arrest in Ferguson.
Reporters were using a MacDonald’s a few blocks from where Michael Brown was shot as a staging area, because it has WiFi and outlets. Lowery was there charging his phone and responding to people on Twitter yesterday when the cops came in. They told Lowery and another reporter to leave. Lowery started recording video on his phone.
An officer with a large weapon came up to me and said, “Stop recording.”
I said, “Officer, do I not have the right to record you?”
He backed off but told me to hurry up. So I gathered my notebook and pens with one hand while recording him with the other hand.
As I exited, I saw Ryan to my left, having a similar argument with two officers. I recorded him, too, and that angered the officer. As I made my way toward the door, the officers gave me conflicting information.
One instructed me to exit to my left. As I turned left, another officer emerged, blocking my path.
Then they decided to arrest him.
Multiple officers grabbed me. I tried to turn my back to them to assist them in arresting me. I dropped the things from my hands.
“My hands are behind my back,” I said. “I’m not resisting. I’m not resisting.” At which point one officer said: “You’re resisting. Stop resisting.”
That was when I was most afraid — more afraid than of the tear gas and rubber bullets.
As they took me into custody, the officers slammed me into a soda machine, at one point setting off the Coke dispenser. They put plastic cuffs on me, then they led me out the door.
The cops took the reporters to the station, in a car with a woman in a clerical collar who sang hymns the whole way. (Lowery doesn’t say whether that was annoying or not. It sounds annoying.)
Once at the station, we were processed, our pockets emptied. No mug shots. They removed our restraints and put us in a holding cell. Ryan was able to get ahold of his dad. I called my mom, but I couldn’t get through. I couldn’t remember any phone numbers.
We were in there for what felt like 10 or 15 minutes. Then the processing officer came in.
“Who’s media?” he asked.
We said we were. And the officer said we were both free to go. We asked to speak to a commanding officer. We asked to see an arrest report. No report, the officer told us, and no, they wouldn’t provide any names.
I asked if there would ever be a report. He came back with a case number and said a report would be available in a week or two.
“The chief thought he was doing you two a favor,” he said.
Really? What kind of favor?
The Ferguson Police Department has so far had no comment on this favor. The Post has:
The following is a statement on the incident from Washington Post Executive Editor Martin D. Baron:
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.
Ferguson; a name that will live in infamy.