The situation in Ferguson, Mo., is out of control. Who would have thought that a shooting would cause such a stir? Then again, when allegations of race are believed to be a factor in the shooting that took the life of unarmed 18-year-old Mike Brown on Aug. 9, chaos ensued.
Multiple police forces cracked down on peaceful protests, firing rubber bullets and tear gas. Many of those who were peppered by officers clearly dressed in more military gear than was required, were African Americans.
Although all of the information has yet to be gathered, people have already drawn comparisons from this shooting to the one that killed Trayvon Martin, 17, in Florida back in 2012.
However, last week’s shooting in Ferguson is different, and not because groups of police responded violently against protestors.
This incident involved our brothers and sisters in the media.
In an attempt to film one of the many protests that has become commonplace in Ferguson, an Al Jazeera news team was attacked with tear gas.
No, this didn’t happen in Gaza or in the eastern reaches of Ukraine, but in America — the country that prides themselves on their freedom of the press maybe more than any other western country.
It wasn’t even an isolated incident; other members of the media were arrested for “trespassing” at a McDonald’s where they were customers.
Who gave the go ahead for police to unleash an assault of force on protesters and journalists? We don’t know for sure, but the Missouri Highway State Patrol has been placed in control of trying to alleviate the situation.
Even U.S. President Barack Obama said Thursday that there is “no excuse” for the violent actions that have been taking place in the St. Louis suburb.
“There’s also no excuse for police to use excessive force against peaceful protests or to throw protesters in jail for lawfully exercising their First Amendment rights,” said Obama.
He’s right. There isn’t an excuse for the actions of police and, to a small extent the protestors, in the aftermath of Brown’s criminal shooting.
Journalists are there to report on the events of what was transpiring. It’s not their choice. They have a job to do.
If they were in the way, police should have respectfully asked the reporters to move aside, instead of slamming them into pop machines and letting loose a brigade of tear gas on them.
As Washington Post reporter Wesley Lowery tweeted on Wednesday evening after he was released by police: “Apparently, in America, in 2014, police can manhandle you, take you into custody, put you in cell & then open the door like it didn’t happen … It’s as if the arrest and the assaults never took place. Just opened the doors and let (us) out as if we’d let it go.”
Here’s hoping there is a swift blow of justice levied against the officers acting over and above their duties in Ferguson.
All editorials are written by the Times-Herald editorial staff.