- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 14, 2014

Two journalists arrested amid the clashes of police and protesters in the streets of St. Louis, Missouri, called their treatment “shameful” and outrageous, unjustified and even illegal, and said the militarization of civilian law enforcement is starting to clamp press freedoms.

The reporters who were arrested were Wesley Lowery, with The Washington Post, and Ryan Reilly, with Huffington Post.

HuffPost Media tweeted a quick response of the situation, shortly after learning the details of Mr. Reilly’s arrest: “Our splash on what happened tonight: ‘SHAMEFUL.’ “

Washington Post Executive Editor Marty Baron issued a statement condemning the actions by the Ferguson police, reported by Mediaite: “Wesley has briefed us on what occurred and there was absolutely no justification for his arrest. 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.”

Mr. Baron then reported that Mr. Lowery was “placed in a holding cell” then released “with no charges and no explanation. He was denied information about the names and badge numbers of those who arrested him.”

The Huffington Post sent out a similarly toned description of what occurred to Mr. Reilly, via Washington bureau chief Ryan Grim, posted by Mediaite: “We are relieved Ryan Reilly and Wesley Lowery are safe, but we are disturbed by their arrest and assault. Ryan was working on his laptop in a McDonald’s near the protests in Ferguson, MO, when police barged in, armed with high-powered weapons, and began clearing the restaurant. Ryan photographed the intrusion and police demanded his ID in response. Ryan, as is his right, declined to provide it. He proceeded to pack up his belongings, but was subsequently arrested for not packing up fast enough. Both Ryan and Wesley were assaulted.”

Mr. Grim then accused the police of “false arrest” and “militant aggression,” Mediaite reported.

He went on: “Ryan, who has reported multiple times from Guantanamo Bay, said that the police resembled soldiers more than officers and treated those inside the McDonald’s as ‘enemy combatants.’ Police militarization has been among the most consequential and unnoticed developments of our time, and it is now beginning to affect press freedom.”

• Cheryl K. Chumley can be reached at cchumley@washingtontimes.com.

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