New York, August 11, 2015–Two U.S. journalists have been charged in Missouri with trespassing and interfering with a police officer nearly a year after they were detained by police in the city of Ferguson, according to news reports. Wesley Lowery, a reporter for The Washington Post, and Ryan J. Reilly, a reporter for the Huffington Post, were briefly detained in August 2014 while working out of a McDonald’s restaurant in Ferguson to cover protests following the fatal shooting by police of unarmed teenager Michael Brown, according to news reports. If convicted, the two face a possible fine of $1,000 and up to a year in jail, according to the county’s municipal code.
“U.S. authorities have no business hauling reporters into court for doing their jobs, especially on a world story like Ferguson,” said CPJ Deputy Director Robert Mahoney. “We are appalled by this judicial intimidation of Wesley Lowery and Ryan Reilly and call on St. Louis authorities to drop all charges immediately.”
Lowery said that he received a summons to appear in a St. Louis County court on August 24, according to The Washington Post. The summons said he would be arrested if he did not appear. Cordell Whitlock, a spokesman for the county executive, said that Reilly had been issued a summons on the same charges, the report said. CPJ and other groups in 2014 documented the widespread harassment and detention of journalists who covered the unrest in Ferguson. At least 11 reporters were detained between August 13 and 19, and journalists reported being threatened by police, hit with rubber bullets, and affected by tear gas. Other reporters said they were threatened by crowds who were protesting and, in some cases, looting during the unrest, according to news reports.
- For data and analysis on the U.S., visit CPJ’s U.S. page.