Apparently the U.S. government bent over backwards to keep the ugly truth about the Ferguson riots from the American public.
The government accommodated a police request to declare 37 square miles of airspace surrounding Ferguson, Mo., a no-fly zone. The official story was that it was done for safety reasons, but audio recordings between officials prove it was to keep out news helicopters, according to the Associated Press.
The ground-level violence millions of Americans saw on their televisions was as much as the authorities wanted to be seen.
“They finally admitted it really was to keep the media out,” said one FAA manager about the St. Louis County Police. “But they were a little concerned of, obviously, anything else that could be going on.
FAA’s Kansas City center said police didn’t care about commercial traffic but did not want to media to fly over the area.
“There is really … no option for a [flight restriction] that says, you know, ‘OK, everybody but the media is OK,'” he said. The managers then worked out wording they felt would keep news helicopters out of the controlled zone but not impede other air traffic.
As late as Friday police stuck to their story that air traffic was banned due to protestors shooting at a police helicopter. However, police were not able to provide an incident report of the alleged shots and confirmed no damage was done to any helicopters. On the tapes obtained by the AP an FAA manager referred to the shots fired at the police helicopter as unconfirmed rumors.
“Any evidence that a no-fly zone was put in place as a pretext to exclude the media from covering events in Ferguson is extraordinarily troubling and a blatant violation of the press’s First Amendment rights,” said Lee Rowland, an American Civil Liberties Union staff attorney.
The AP obtained the recordings under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act.
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