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Journalism Is Not a Crime

'As demonstrators protest unjust policing practices in Ferguson and reporters document this activism, we need to ensure that neither group is treated as criminals.' (Original Photo: Flickr user Shawn Semmler)

On Monday, a day after the one-year anniversary of the killing of Michael Brown, St. Louis County filed charges against two reporters who were arrested in 2014 while covering the Ferguson protests.

Their crime? Being journalists.

During the height of the protests last year, Wesley Lowery of the Washington Post and Ryan J. Reilly of the Huffington Post used a local McDonald’s as a base for their reporting. Police officers stormed the restaurant and ordered Lowery and Reilly to clear out. When the two men recorded the officers’ behavior and didn’t move fast enough, they were roughed up and arrested.

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The crackdown on those trying to show what’s happening in Ferguson continues on all fronts and includes yesterday’s arrests of several prominent Black Lives Matter activists attempting to film protests in neighboring St. Louis. We need journalists — and anyone performing acts of journalism — to act as our eyes and ears on the ground, protect our communities’ best interests and report on any abuses of power.

We don’t have time to waste. As demonstrators protest unjust policing practices in Ferguson and reporters document this activism, we need to ensure that neither group is treated as criminals.

Demand that St. Louis County drop the charges against Wesley Lowery and Ryan J. Reilly — and protect everyone who performs acts of journalism.

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Mike Rispoli

Mike Rispoli is the Communications Manager for Privacy International, a London-based charity committed to fighting for the right to privacy across the world. Follow him on Twitter:@RispoliMike

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