The striking number of violations of press freedom during the Ferguson, MO protests reveals an urgent need for better training for police on media freedoms during public demonstrations, PEN American Center said in a report today.
“Press Freedom Under Fire in Ferguson,” announced this morning in the New York Times, documents 52 alleged incidents of press freedom violations during the Ferguson protests, including arrests, verbal threats, and physical harm— including the use of tear gas—to journalists covering the protests. The report also notes multiple allegations of loaded guns pointed at journalists engaged in newsgathering activities.
“The press play a critical role in documenting and disseminating information about human rights violations, including those that happen during public protests," said Katy Glenn Bass, Deputy Director of Free Expression Programs at PEN and the lead researcher on the report. “The pattern of press freedom violations observed in Ferguson is troubling not only because it suggests a breakdown in communication between the police and the fourth estate, but also because it restricted the flow of public information about police actions in Ferguson, thus limiting the ability to hold the police accountable for misconduct.”