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#BlackLivesMatter activists arrested, journalists charged in Ferguson

The unrest in Missouri continues.


Josh Katzowitz


Posted on Aug 11, 2015   Updated on May 28, 2021, 4:45 am CDT

With the anniversary Sunday of Ferguson, Missouri, police officer Darren Wilson fatally shooting Michael Brown, plenty of eyes have focused on the area to see if tempers would flare.

On Sunday protesters took to the streets in Ferguson peacefully, though late that night a St. Louis County officer shot a man after, according to the police, “officers came under heavy gunfire.” On Monday there was more controversy when two black activists were arrested and two journalists who covered the original protests were charged by police with trespassing and interfering with an officer.

While protesting in front of the federal courthouse in downtown St. Louis, officers from the Department of Homeland Security arrested #BlackLivesMatter activists Johnetta Elzie and DeRay Mckesson.

Earlier in the day, Elzie had tweeted this.

So, what happened on Monday?

Mckesson later tweeted about his experiences in custody, in which he wrote that he was mistreated by U.S. Marshals who refused to give Mckesson and Elzie their names and who later dragged Mckesson to a cell with his hands zip-tied behind him after Mckeeson refused to move from the floor.

Mckesson said he was charged with “unusually obstructing the usual use of entrances” of the Department of Justice building.

Meanwhile, here was a portion of Elzie’s experience.

Also of note is the fact that two reporters—the Washington Post‘s Wesley Lowery and the Huffington Post’s Ryan J. Reilly—were charged with trespassing and interfering with an officer, stemming from an incident in which the two were covering the protests in August 2014 and, while at a McDonald’s to charge their phones and file their stories, were arrested for not evacuating the restaurant quickly enough.

Here was the scene a year ago.

On Monday, seven days before the statute of limitations would have expired, the two were officially charged.

“Charging a reporter with trespassing and interfering with a police officer when he was just doing his job is outrageous,” Martin Baron, executive editor of the Post, said in a statement. “You’d have thought law enforcement authorities would have come to their senses about this incident. Wes Lowery should never have been arrested in the first place. That was an abuse of police authority… This latest action represents contemptible overreaching by prosecutors who seem to have no regard for the role of journalists seeking to cover a major story and following normal practice,”

Said the Huffington Post:

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Lowery has been ordered to appear in St. Louis municipal court Aug. 24, and police said he could be arrested if he doesn’t show up for his hearing. Altogether, though, the news the two received Monday wasn’t entirely bad for Reilly.

Photo via Erik Mauer/Flickr (CC BY ND 2.0)

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*First Published: Aug 11, 2015, 12:41 am CDT