Washington Post – by Wesley Lowery
FERGUSON, Mo. — For the past week in Ferguson, reporters have been using the McDonald’s a few blocks from the scene of Michael Brown’s shooting as a staging area. Demonstrations have blown up each night nearby. But inside there’s WiFi and outlets, so it’s common for reporters to gather there.
That was the case Wednesday. My phone was just about to die, so as I charged it, I used the time to respond to people on Twitter and do a little bit of a Q&A since I wasn’t out there covering the protests.
As I sat there, many armed officers came in — some who were dressed as normal officers, others who were dressed with more gear.
Initially, both Ryan Reilly of the Huffington Post and I were asked for identification. I was wearing my lanyard, but Ryan asked why he had to show his ID. They didn’t press the point, but one added that if we called 911, no one would answer.
Then they walked away. Moments later, the police reemerged, telling us that we had to leave. I pulled my phone out and began recording video.
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.
“Go another way,” he said.
As I turned, my backpack, which was slung over one shoulder, began to slip. I said, “Officers, let me just gather my bag.” As I did, one of them said, “Okay, let’s take 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.
I could see Ryan still talking to an officer. I said: “Ryan, tweet that they’re arresting me, tweet that they’re arresting me.”
He didn’t have an opportunity, because he was arrested as well.
The officers led us outside to a police van. Inside, there was a large man sitting on the floor between the two benches. He began screaming: “I can’t breathe! Call a paramedic! Call a paramedic!”
Ryan and I asked the officers if they intended to help the man. They said he was fine. The screaming went on for the 10 to 15 minutes we stood outside the van.
“I’m going to die!” he screamed. “I’m going to die! I can’t breathe! I’m going to die!”
Eventually a police car arrived. A woman — with a collar identifying her as a member of the clergy — sat in the back. Ryan and I crammed in next to her, and we took the three-minute ride to the Ferguson Police Department. The woman sang hymns throughout the ride.
During this time, we asked the officers for badge numbers. We asked to speak to a supervising officer. We asked why we were being detained. We were told: trespassing in a McDonald’s.
“I hope you’re happy with yourself,” one officer told me. And I responded: “This story’s going to get out there. It’s going to be on the front page of The Washington Post tomorrow.”
And he said, “Yeah, well, you’re going to be in my jail cell tonight.”
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.
The Ferguson Police Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Lowery’s detention.
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
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.
14 thoughts on “In Ferguson, Washington Post reporter Wesley Lowery gives account of his arrest”
I dunno what the media is getting all upset about. The police conduct being described is a lite version of what the media has been aiding and abetting for a decade.
I have zero sympathy for any mainstream media. They are all as dirty as this gangster government.
Typical actions of a third world police state. Media people better get over any idea that they have any immunity to such actions. In fact they are more likely to be assaulted in order to hide illegal police activities.
Soon this kind of treatment will be going on in a grand scale nation wide.The pigs will protect the criminals at all cost and the citizens for the most part mean nothing.The departments are weeding out the cops with a brain and replacing them with garbage that will do anything it is told to do! Those that still want to believe the pigs are there friends will get what they deserve.26
This storm can be escalated nationwide, the trick is going to be keeping this against the opressors and not allowing it to turn into a race conflict which I believe will happen. Who’s gonna make the next move?
It is time that the reporter wake up to the fact that in America this is every day police behavor that the citizen suffers at the hands of your police. Yes you are lucky here. Many are murdered by police in America for so much as speaking to one or even saying a wrong word to a officer. And there is no set rule it is just what that officer demands and the mood they or he is in. If you try to file a complaint against one as you have found they do not respond to complaints. So 98% of complaints are never on there record. And belive if you insist for a true investigation. They will frame you and you can expect one to stop by and put a gun to you and make there demand you drop the complaint for them. Then you are no longer on there police freind list and they will harass you till you die. One way or the other. And this is what the American people are forced to endure daily in police. I know I tryed. And they showed. 3 atempts to murder me, property damage by police, failor to respond, and finaly death threats till I was forced to flee America for my safty from such as you have there in police. I was a former resident of SANG. CO, IL. and natural born citizen as well. Cacasion in race. So those reporters are very lucky they were not just beat and framed dragged before the police judge and forced to pay for the police missconduct. That is what the average American suffers if they say the wrong work to a officer in America!
Right you are James Bergen,all they say is they feared for their life and the poor fool on the other side of the gun barrel is dead. An internal investigation is done and it shows the pig followed department protocol, Then he is ready to kill again after a brief tax payer paid vacation.More and more people are seeing these corrupt terrorist for what they are all the time now and that’s why we are seeing the militant LEO’s coming out of the woodwork for anything now.They ,the pigs ,know for sure that more people are seeing this and they don’t like that at all.
Huh….. White House stenographers (presstitutes) getting a taste of the USA they so gladly helped create?
Wake up call?
“USA! USA! USA!”
Not that the officer’s were correct in their action. But, I would imagine that after having to deal with unruly crowds, the last things these officers wanted to hear were two little whiny butts trying to exacerbate a situation just to get themselves “on the front page tomorrow”. And who do they call when they are in jail? Why, mommy and daddy of course!
But, overall, we ARE in a sad state of affairs.
Stay Alert, Stay Alive
There are only 2 sides to the fence.
Those are not cops. That is a standing foreign army, hellbent on establishing total control. You are either with them, or you are with the people who have had all this shit they are going to take. To pretend there is the slightest degree of legitimacy within this international socialist insurgency into our sovereign country, is to aid and abet our enemy.
Pick a side.
Please, make no mistake about it. I am firmly, bravely, consciously and patriotically on the side of the document I have sworn The Oath to uphold – The Constitution Of The United States.
I do not doubt you. But we have to understand that what once was a peace officer is now a soldier with foreign allegiance who wants to use his prior status to gain an edge in conquering our most sacred document, “The Bill of Rights”, not to be confused with the Constitution, which is not but a work contract which is at present null and void due to the breach by the party of the second part.
Well, at least when they don the blue helmets they’ll be easy targets.
I , too, am glad the media is getting their butts kicked by the psycho pigs. Maybe the public will finally see what’s really happening in this country.
Subtlety on their part is a thing of the past.
Everyone’s a target to them now.