Ferguson or Fergustan: Media rights trampled in Missouri

Ferguson or Fergustan: Media rights trampled in Missouri

Disclaimer: As a former Chicago Police Officer, it took a lot for me to post this. I took an oath to defend and protect the Constitution. The same oath law enforcement and elected officials in Missouri took. I never knowingly violated that oath.

Ferguson, Missouri is demonstrating to the world it is becoming Fergustan. The authorities are acting like Third World tin pot dictators instead of responsible American elected, appointed, and hired officials.

Fergustan is an apt name for what is going on in Missouri.

Journalists are being abused and arrested for taking photographs and video of events as they unfold. The latest arrest was Chicago based photojournalist Scott Olsen of Getty Images.

Allegedly Olson was asked to move to another location and refused.

Scott Olson took some of the iconic images coming out of Ferguson. Maybe that is the real reason he was arrested. No reasons were given for the arrests, detentions, or harassment of other journalists in Ferguson.

Scott Olson was released at about 9 p.m. Monday. He stated the following:

“I want to be able to do my job as a member of the media and not be arrested for just doing my job”

The police in Ferguson are a disgrace to law enforcement. They are denigrating themselves on the world stage. Worse are the elected and appointed authorities who allow, tolerate, and condone this behavior.

The images coming out of Ferguson do not show looters, rioters, and other criminals being arrested. They show journalists being led away in handcuffs or journalists being bombed by smoke and tear gas.

This must be the image Missouri wants the world to see. Let the criminals roam free. Arrest and harass the story tellers.

"These have not been the kindest years for our trust in the national media. But still, when people are trying to take reporters into custody when they are just doing their jobs, it’s a sign that something is wrong. When police are shutting down cameras, it is a sign that they know the truth is not going to be kind to them...

...That the Ferguson police are terrified of a media presence is a reminder of how much that presence can matter and help tell an important story, as honestly as possible, looking at everything." (Newsday)

“Police should not be bullying or arresting journalists just trying to do their jobs." (President Obama/Last week)

It appears the authorities do not want negative images coming out of Ferguson. These arrests could not happen unless the elected officials allowed them to. They are complicit with their police departments attempting to create an environment of fear and intimidation for the press and an image blackout.

There is no longer freedom of the press in Fergustan, Missouri.

What possible charges could they level against media people doing their jobs? What judge in his or her right mind would even allow these cases in his court room? What prosecutor would be dumb enough to bring charges?

Maybe in Fergustan, or Missouri in general, the rule of American law does not apply.

Three days ago, Missouri authorities entered into a court consent decree not to arrest journalists as long as they did not interfere with police or threaten the safety of others. The decree was signed by representatives of the state police, county commissioners, and the city of Ferguson.

From various reports, not one arrested, detained, or harassed journalist was accused of interfering with police or threatening the safety of others.

Missouri is proving itself a laughing stock on the world stage. They cannot control crowds, peaceful protests, rioters, looters, or anything else.

They are unable to arrest rioters, looters, and arsonists wielding Molotov cocktails.

To assuage their tender macho sensitivities and self esteem, they arrest and harass journalists doing their job.

They have all the Tommy Tactical toys with no tact.

The actions of the authorities in Ferguson are deplorable, grossly irresponsible, and raise serious constitutional issues. Missouri needs help. Not more boots on the ground or National Guard troops.

They need savvy media relations personnel. They also need to be investigated for civil rights violations of the First Amendment to the Constitution.

When it comes to the news media, Ferguson is Fergustan, a tyrannical Third World tin pot despotic government, fearful of storytellers doing their jobs.

Fergustan and Missouri are not America.

They are afraid of the storytellers. They are afraid their shortcomings will be on display for the whole world to see. They are afraid they will be exposed as a backward community of "antediluvian dodo birds" (Harold Washington).

I read a saying the other day. "Only two things come out of Missouri. Cattle and outlaws." It appears the governments of Missouri are run by mindless bovines and their edicts are enforced by outlaws.

On a personal note, during almost 30 years on the Chicago Police Department I dealt with journalists during all types of events. When processing crime scenes some video journalists used their bright lights to assist me in locating evidence. Some even frequented the same late night/early morning "cop bars" and drank with us.

There was always a mutual, if sometimes adversarial respect between the police and local journalists.

I only had one bad experience with a reporter. He refused to obey an order not to drive down a street I was blocking. A fire was being fought and there were fire hoses all over the street. He was told to park his car and walk the two blocks to the fire scene. He chose to speed away in his red Corvette, running over the fire hoses.

He was convicted of disobeying the police and running over the fire hoses (Serious traffic violations). He was fined over a thousand dollars and then fired by the entity he worked for.

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