Paul Revere by Cyrus Dallin, North End, Boston



Thursday, August 14, 2014

Police or Paramilitary Force?


What the hell is going on.   And why?

The Huffington Post's Ryan J. Reilly and the Washington Post's Wesley Lowery were arrested Wednesday evening while covering the protests in Ferguson, Missouri after the death of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown, who was shot by a police officer last week. The journalists were released unharmed, but their detentions highlighted the town's ramped up police presence, which has left numerous residents injured by rubber bullets, pepper spray and tear gas during protests held every night after Brown's death. 

 SWAT officers roughed up the reporters inside a McDonald's, where both journalists were working. Reilly snapped a photo, prompting cops to request his identification. "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."

More on this shocking story Here.

 So the police have: 

1) Killed an unarmed teen 
2) Fired tear gas & rubber bullets at mostly peaceful protesters 
3) Arrested & blocked media — 

There'll be a lot more written over the course of today. For now, more politics and policy below the fold. And a huge THANK YOU to the reporters covering Ferguson.

 How many times have we read on conservative blogs that President Obama is "shredding the Constitution?" How many times have conservative pols, pundits, and bloggers accused President Obama of fundamentally changing this country? Meanwhile, the police in Ferguson, Missouri, and other cities across the country have violated the most fundamental Constitutional guarantees.

It's not the president who is slamming reporters' heads against walls for being reporters and performing their constitutionally protected rights, it is an out-of-control police presence, which is under the jurisdiction of the individual cities and towns' leadership -- the mayors and city/town councils.  When will this be addressed by them?  

Meanwhile,  what is happening in Ferguson and other cities where unrest occurs is a national disgrace.


Read this account by the Washington Post reporter, Wesley Lowry, on the Gestapo-like behavior of the police in Ferguson. 

One of the commenters here at P.E. doesn't think newspaper reporters should cover conflicts and disaster zones -- presumably because it interferers with the police's Nazi-like behavior. 


skudrunner said...

Just what they need in a tense situation is a bunch of reporters trying to find something to report.

Like most things, the truth is somewhere in the middle and no one knows the truth. Sharpton goes there not knowing the facts and demands justice, actually this is what he lives for.

This is a tragedy no matter what happened but the thugs use it as an opportunity to steal and destroy. After this is over the neighborhood will complain that the retailers are not going to re-build in the area and they are being discriminated against.

Where was Sharpton and Hayes when Christopher Lane was murdered by two minority youth because they were bored. No riots, no media circus, no Jackson and Shaprton.

Shaw Kenawe said...

From my friend, Yvonne Daley, who is a journalist and teaches at San Francisco State:

'I'm alarmed by what appears to be not only an unjustified death but a trampling of basic rights and freedom of the press, a growing concern here in America in general. USA Today reports that journalists and a city official were arrested as they tried to report on the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, following the shooting of an unarmed, 18-year-old black man. According to USA Today, "Journalists in the St. Louis suburb to cover the fray wound up being part of the story when two were detained at a McDonald's restaurant where members of the media were charging cellphones and writing.

Reporters Wesley Lowery of The Washington Post and Ryan Reilly of The Huffington Post said on Twitter that police told them to stop recording the chaos, then took them into custody."

Jerry Critter said...

It is not about what "they" need. It is about what we need, and we do need "a bunch of reporters trying to find something to report."

It is the only defense we have.

Shaw Kenawe said...

skud, as usual, you side with the gestapo-like tactics of the police.

Our constitution guarantees the press its right to report. I'm not surprised you'd overlook that. You belong to the same group that accuses Mr Obama of "shredding the constitution," then see nothing wrong with policemen interfering with reporters' right to report a story.

That sort of behavior is what one expects to find in Communist China, not a behavior you, who fetishize the Constitution, would approve of.

Reporters ALWAYS report on trouble and unrest, even war zones.Somehow you've forgotten that. But you didn't miss a chance to bring in subjects that are not part of this discussion.

I'm surprised you didn't blame Mr. Obama.

Annie of Watertown said...

The citizens of Ferguson have the right to protest peacefully, and the Ferguson police have the duty to protect the community from vandalism and looting. But arresting or detaining the press for covering the story is reminiscent of Nazi Germany.

Anonymous said...

The people, which includes journalists, are allowed to report, photograph, and document any activities of the police which occur in public, as long as they do not interfere.

Some police officers and departments have taken an "us" against "them" mentality against ALL citizens. They act like no citizen is allowed to question them or their actions, and if one does so, the retribution is extreme force in some cases.

It is the responsibility of the people of these communities to reign in the militarization of their police force and to stop these unjust acts.

Shaw Kenawe said...

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

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."

I hope the Justice Dept. investigates this outrage.

skudrunner said...

You give the American press far to much credit. Yes they have the right to report but there are limits and many of them surpass stupid. As child dies in a crash and the reporter asks, how do you feel.

Are you going to address the lack of reporting and riots for Lane or is that not sensational enough. I suppose you support the rev Al mixing it up when even the black leaders said go away.

Were those two members of the fifth estate asked to leave and refused, I don't know but I am sure you do.

Like I said, the truth to this whole incident is somewhere in the middle.

Since this is a racist incident I am sure Holder will be all over it, that's what he lives for.

okjimm said...

well, and I have to kinda laugh, eating in a MacDonald's is some sort of crime.

'truth is somewhere in the middle and no one knows the truth'

well, if that isn't the snappiest snap of wisdom since Glenn Beck had gout.

the kid in Missouri is dead...and we all know is the truth. And he was shot by a policeman, and that is the truth.... and the police are being less than honest about the incident, and that is the truth.

the only time the truth is really in the middle is when it is smack dab in the center of the bullseye.

Next time those reporters should find a truthful place to eat.

(O)CT(O)PUS said...

Just drop the pretense and don the white hood.

Jerry Critter said...

"...truth is somewhere in the middle..."

More of the "both sides do it" bullshit.

Shaw Kenawe said...

Thomas Jefferson: "If I had to choose between government without newspapers, and newspapers without government, I wouldn't hesitate to choose the latter."

Our friend skudrunner is apparently more of a government lover than I thought, which is odd, since his people keep telling us how it's always the problem and not the solution.

However, it appears that he and others like the sort of solutions city and town governments sic on unarmed young black men, and they dislike anyone reporting on it.

I'm with Jefferson, BTW.

Katie said...

Lowrey from Washington Post and Ryan from HuffPo weren't DOING ANYTHING other than sitting in the McDonalds! They were charging phones and filing reports.

It was late afternoon - daytime - the city was not on lock-down, Marshall Law had not been declared, nor a curfew.

This action of disturbing these men while minding their own business, inside a private business - then arresting them when they can't juggle all their supplies / backpacks / food and such fast enough, only to release them without a reason or explanation is a direct violation of their First Amendment rights.

What happened to freedom of the press? How about just regular people? The police in Ferguson are acting as if ordinary American citizens are enemy combatants.

Duckys here said...

@Skud -- Just what they need in a tense situation is a bunch of reporters trying to find something to report.
Footage out from Franklin indicates they don't have far to look.

Then we have the standard Teabag meme about Sharpton who, according to witnesses on today's Democracy Now! has been a constructive presence.
But if nothing gets reported Teabags won't have to strain to understand a complex, dangerous situation. They'll just let their bias stand unchallenged.

Three unarmed minority men have been killed recently (that we know of, others may have gone unreported as the Teabags prefer) and one city says, "enough" and you seem surprised, Skud.

The journalists were in McDonald's after they made a purchase. There was no reasonable cause for them to be rousted. At least they didn't get roughed up like the Al-Jazeera crew but they might be scary Muslims so it's okay in Skud's world.

Because freedom ...

skudrunner said...

So because someone was unjustly killed, you condone rioting, looting and burning businesses. I guess since the owners didn't build it someone else needs to burn it.

It is fascinating to have so many eye witnesses to the event on one blog. Why aren't you in St. Louis giving an eye witness account of what really happened.

Legs, you comment was about what was to be expected.

Rational Nation USA said...

"Then we have the standard Teabag meme about Sharpton who, according to witnesses on today's Democracy Now! has been a constructive presence."

Well, that's very good news, and about time.

Rational Nation USA said...

Perhaps this will set Skuds mind at ease.

Duckys here said...

Skud, you know quite well that bringing up Christopher Lane is a false equivalence.

The thugs who shot him were armed and they were arrested. All proper. Unless you expect demonstrations every time someone is shot in gun crazy America.

Michael Brown was unarmed and he was not committing a crime. Surely you can see the difference especially in an environment when unarmed minorities are targeted by police.

Anonymous said...

skudrunner said...


Of course I see the difference but until the truth was found, there was not rioting in the streets.

Do we know what took place in missouri, not yet.

I was at the democratic convention in Chicago, where the description pig was born so I am quite aware of excessive force.

Of course bho make a speech between nines about this and points for the police to calm down not the rioters. Quick to judge, slow to act.

Shaw Kenawe said...

Here are Mr. Obama's exact words:

"I know that emotions are raw right now in Ferguson," Obama said in a news conference. "There is never an excuse for violence against the police or for those who would use this tragedy as a cover for vandalism or looting. ... There is also no excuse for police to use excessive force against peaceful protests or to throw protesters in jail."

Your toxic hatred of this president causes you to hear only what your prejudices want you hear.

Rational Nation USA said...

Of course bho make a speech between nines about this and points for the police to calm down not the rioters. Quick to judge, slow to act.

@Skud... A) What relevancy is there to where the President made his remarks?

B) What would you suggest the President do? Attempt to clam the situation diplomatically? Send in the National Guard or Army? What?

C) Is this a federal or state issue?

It does appear you may be more interested in bashing the President than constructive comments and suggestions.

Flying Junior said...

I just wake up feeling very melancholy today with the events of this week. Especially as I think about Robin Williams' suicide. I had just listened to Laura Nyro's "Eli and the Thirteenth Confession." I got so happy I listened to "Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars."

This morning I find myself singing, "And it was alright, the band was all together. It was all right, the song went on forever."

"You're a rock and roll suicide..."

Rational Nation USA said...

Your toxic hatred of this president causes you to hear only what your prejudices want you hear.

Not unlike the toxic hatred some liberals/progressives held for President Reagan and President G.W. Bush eh Shaw?

Shaw Kenawe said...

"Not unlike the toxic hatred some liberals/progressives held for President Reagan and President G.W. Bush eh Shaw?"

There are always those who have an unhealthy hatred for a sitting president. And I'm sure that was so during President Reagan's and President Bush's time in office.

But please remember how the Democrats worked with both of those presidents and didn't obstruct each and every policy or appointment those presidents put forth. In fact, Mr. Reagan and Democratic Speaker of the House O'Neill liked each other and had an very amiable working relationship. And the Democrats worked with Mr. Bush in passing his Medicare Part D, even though they did not like the legislation. Not so with Mr. Obama's attempts to work with the GOP on the A.C.A.

No Democrat ever held the debt ceiling hostage as a means to get what they wanted when Mr. Reagan or Mr. Bush increased it.

Certainly Democrats didn't like Nixon, but the Congressional Democrats, to my knowledge, never disrespected him the way the current crop of GOP congressmen and women have disrespected Mr. Obama.

And even though all our presidents have had hard and even stubborn opposition, I've never witnessed what Mr. Obama has faced. And I've lived through quite a few presidencies.

Shaw Kenawe said...


I've been watching quite a few of Williams' videos. We lost a great talent who will not be replaced. There just will not be another like him, I don't think, in my lifetime.

Now that we know what he was facing, I have even more sympathy for what he suffered.

Music is an excellent way to soothe one's heart when we feel this melancoly

Shaw Kenawe said...

The worms who work for FAUX NOOZ are at it again. They presented to their non-critical-thinking viewers a butchered video of what President Obama actually said the other day about the volatile situation in Ferguson, MO.

They viciously and dishonestly did this to add more fire to the conflict and to make it look like the president is taking sides against the police.

Anyone who gets their information from that malignant organization has got to have something wrong with neuron firings in their brains. What FAUX NOOZ did is inexcusable and enforces what people have learned about the slime that work for it.

Rational Nation USA said...

I've lived through as many presidents as you Shaw. I agree the opposition has been stiff for many presidents and for the most part republicans and democrats alike have found a way to govern successfully. Until now.

Fact... Debt has increased more under Obama than any previous president. Fact... Debt ceiling has ultimately been raised.

Fact... Part D was a mistake. Fact... Dems should have stood their ground.

Fact... ACA is not the "success" dems claim it is. Fact... Obama was unwilling to compromise in any meaningfull sense and Harry and Nancy steam rolled the 2000 plus page legislation through. Fact... It passed and it won't be reversed. Hopefully future administrations are able to improve on it and actually make it affordable for working folks.

I have issues with many in the Tea Party and hard line conservatives. I have been critical of their short sightednes. But to attribute everything to hatred or racism as most progressives do is troubling.

Hatred in any form wherever it comes from is toxic. Progressives are guilty of it as well.

Rational Nation USA said...

Wow!!! FOX News us no worse than MSNBC. Unless you're a blindly partisan progressive.

Shaw Kenawe said...

RN: "Fact... Debt has increased more under Obama than any previous president."

Simplistic, and more evidence of your partisanship and willingness to place all the blame on the increase in debt only on President Obama.


What the GOP Doesn’t Understand About the Debt

Simple statements to score partisan points are unhelpful. But then perhaps the point is to pile on to Mr. Obama and not understand how the debt increased under both Dems and Repubs.

Shaw Kenawe said...

Fact... ACA is not the "success" dems claim it is"

Although President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law almost four years ago, much of Washington still treats the fate of his signature legislation as an open question.

Coverage Expansion Success: Nearly Sixty Percent Of Obamacare Exchange Enrollees Were Not Previously Insured

Affordable Care Act already a success in Iowa

The number of uninsureds nationally continues to decrease. That in itself is a success story. But of course not if one is a partisan and looking only at the downside of the law.

Shaw Kenawe said...

"But to attribute everything to hatred or racism as most progressives do is troubling."

RN, you brought racism into the discussion. It is not written in anything on this thread. However I stand by my claim that certain elements on the right have a visceral HATRED of the president. I read it every single day on blogs and other venues from the right. Their hatred of Mr. Obama extends even to his wife who is doing nothing any other FLOTUS has done. And they spice up their criticism with a nice dollop of bigotry, calling her a wookie and an ape and, even the FAUX NOOZ goons making remarks about her weight.

Rational Nation USA said...

Is it evidence Shaw? I guess it is if you ignore that which runs contrary to your assumptions.

Score points? Please detail what "partisan" points I'm trying to score, why I'm trying to score them, and what I win.

Thank you for acknowledging dems are guilty of busting the budget as well. I acknowledged repubs have long ago.

ACA... no one knows the complete truth and won't for some time.

Rational Nation USA said...

You implied it Shaw. Stalemate...

(O)CT(O)PUS said...

I think all bloggers suffer from mood swings from time to time, which accounts for hot and cold comments, internal inconsistencies, and self-contradictory statements. There are times, I've noticed, when conservative commenters have bashed the Bush presidency and then bash liberals for bashing Bush.

A common observation: Not even Ronald Reagan could win a GOP presidential primary in this extremist Tea Party environment.

So I ask: What purpose will gratuitous sniping and partisan finger pointing serve at this time?

Arthur S. said...

"So I ask: What purpose will gratuitous sniping and partisan finger pointing serve at this time?"

Uncomfortable truths compel certain "neutrals" to say "both sides do it," when embarrassing evidence shows that is not so.

When did any liberal/Democrat question a recent president's origin of birth? His faith? His loyalty to the United States? Rage over a program a first lady initiated that is aimed at improving children's well-being? The wingers have even stooped to questioning why Mrs. Obama's mother should live in the White House.

It is the wingers who infected the internet with racially charged photos of the first family--watermelons on the WH lawn, President Obama depicted as a witch doctor with a bone through his nose, the first lady as an ape. This can't be done to white presidents because up to the present white people have been the majority in this country.

That's about to change. Let's see what happens to white privilege then.

(O)CT(O)PUS said...

Arthur S ...

Those who know this stalwart cephalopod also know that I have invoked the same examples of ODS (Obama Derangement Syndrome) as you cite. All too often, the "both sides" claim comes across as willful tone deafness, and it is hard to hold a reasonable conversation when folks invoke partisan defense mechanisms.

Nevertheless, not every public controversy is deserving of posturing, and this is one of them. Consider these recent incidents:

Police taser 8-year old child

Swat team enters wrong house and kills family dog

Police kill mentally ill teen

Events in Ferguson MO afford us an opportunity to explore the larger issues of excessive and “highly militarized” law enforcement practices.

Recently, one high profile libertarian politician penned this op-ed piece (source):

"When you couple this militarization of law enforcement with an erosion of civil liberties and due process that allows the police to become judge and jury … we begin to have a very serious problem on our hands" [Rand Paul].

When liberals and libertarians rally behind the same cause, you know we "have a very serious problem on our hands," and I see little profit in provocative and divisive commentary that hinder us from forming of a larger consensus.

I know RN shares my concerns. I also know the familiar ebb and flow of partisan mood swings – especially those times when news headlines give my television a near-death experience (as the family cat runs for cover behind the sofa).

Rational Nation USA said...

Indeed (O)CT(O)PUS I do share your concerns.

We have no family cat but from time to time on Mrs. RN will find it neccessary to throw a couch pillow at me.

Dervish Sanders said...

The Right HATES it when Black leaders like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson take a stand against racism. The sarcasm is noted in statements like "well, that's very good news, and about time" when it is pointed out that Sharpton "has been a constructive presence". The racist meme being pushed here is that he HASN'T been a constructive presence in the past.

No such outrage when Whites are murdered? It's because there is no racist history of Blacks murdering Whites (such as lynchings). But the racist Right doesn't get it.

As for steamrolling of the ACA, I say BS. The president made multiple attempts to work with the Republicans. They refused. So we did it without them. They steamrolled themselves. They could have contributed but they chose not to.