Reporters arrested during civil unrest in Ferguson gunning for front page headlines?

Two reporters covering the civil unrest in Ferguson, Mo., found themselves part of the story Wednesday night when they were arrested by police.

According to Wesley Lowery, a reporter for The Washington Post, he and Ryan Reilly of The Huffington Post were using a McDonald’s restaurant as a press center when police came in and asked everyone to leave.

Lowery said they would eventually be arrested because officers “decided we weren’t leaving McDonalds quickly enough, shouldn’t have been taping them.” The reporter would later say he was recording police on his smart phone with one hand while he packed up his equipment with the other.

Here is the video from Lowery just before he was arrested:

Lowery was also periodically posting on Twitter what was happening.

Despite Ferguson remaining a powder-keg of unrest, after his release, Lowery called into MSNBC host Rachel Maddow‘s show to broadcast to the nation how he was “assaulted” by police — a charge he also made on Twitter:

Reilly would later tell MSNBC’s Chris Hayes that an officer “slammed my head against the glass purposefully… and then sarcastically apologized for it.”

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Lowery agreed with Maddow’s assessment that police offered him “no way to avoid being arrested.”

But did Lowery’s arrogance play a role in what took place? He told one of the officers his arrest would be on the front page of the Washington Post — and it was.

“This story’s going to get out there,” Lowery said he told the officer. “It’s going to be on the front page of the Washington Post tomorrow.”

“Yeah, well you’re going to be in my jail cell tonight,” the unimpressed officer allegedly replied.

Martin Baron, executive editor of The Washington Post, released a statement late Wednesday saying that “there was absolutely no justification for his arrest.”

“He was illegally instructed to stop taking video of officers,” Baron said in the statement. “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.”

Tom Tillison


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