Ferguson MO is apparently going up in flames and from what I’m seeing, the local police force is reacting in predictable but incredibly bad ways.
The statement from WaPo:
The Ferguson Police Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Lowery’s detention.
The following is a statement on the incident from Washington Post Executive Editor Martin D. Baron:
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. The physical risk to Wesley himself is obvious and outrageous.
After being placed in a holding cell, he was released with no charges and no explanation. He was denied information about the names and badge numbers of those who arrested him.
We are relieved that Wesley is going to be OK. We are appalled by the conduct of police officers involved.
The Huffington Post called the Ferguson Police Department to inquire about the status of Reilly shortly after tweets indicated that he had been arrested. The person who picked up the phone — who identified himself as “George” — said he couldn’t give any information at this time and that there was no one who could do so. Asked for his last name, he mumbled something quickly. When pressed for the spelling of his name, he hung up.
The Huffington Post called back and again asked for information on Reilly. We were simply put through to the “Ferguson jail” voicemail. On the third try, George again insisted he didn’t have any information at this time and referred us to the city’s website for email information. When again asked for his last name, George simply hung up.
The HuffPo reporter:
“The officer in question, who I repeatedly later asked for his name, grabbed my things and shoved them into my bag,” said Reilly, who appeared on MSNBC’s “All In with Chris Hayes” shortly after his release to recount the arrest. “He used his finger to put a pressure point on my neck.”
“They essentially acted as a military force. It was incredible,” Reilly said. “The worst part was he slammed my head against the glass purposefully on the way out of McDonald’s and then sarcastically apologized for it.”
As an interesting point, Reilly, the HuffPo reporter, pointed out that the police were shouting “Stop resisting” as they arrested him:
“You know you always see cops yelling, ‘stop resisting, stop resisting,’ and that’s something that happened here — but I wasn’t resisting,” Reilly said. “This is just something that these cops yelled no matter what you were doing. I let my arms go limp … wasn’t trying to resist anything.”
From what I’ve read, it sounds as if the local police are overwhelmed and over-reacting. People are getting hurt.
I have this idea in my head that a problem in our culture right now is an overabundance of fear of social disorder. Fear of terrorism so we have to do the airport striptease. Fear of crime so we militarize our police forces. It’s not a coordinated effort but it is chaotically effective in feeding exactly what it fears most. In this case, the police over-react and create contempt for the police so next time something like this happens, the violence starts sooner, the crack down comes faster and even harsher. It divides the police from the people. The police stop seeing themselves as serving and protecting the people and start seeing their job as controlling the people. It’s harmful.