Imagine someone telling you that you cannot watch something. They do not think it's appropriate for you to see. You would be pissed and wonder what is happening . That person just censored you. It is happening with the protests in St. Louis as poorly trained law enforcement officers have targeted the media for arrest. They are telling you that you cannot see what is happening because they do not want the media to record it. It just happened again August 20 2014.
Let's get something straight, right here. It is perfectly legal to record what the police are doing in all 50 states. When a uniformed officer hits the streets, they are subject to being recorded by citizens all day long when they are in a public place. A handful of officers have not gotten that memo in St.Louis as they have grabbed media, shot teargas at them and tried intimidation tactics to make them leave. These officers have added to the problem and the ensuring lawsuits will bring that town and it's police agency to the brink of bankruptcy. Here is an example where a cop points a military gun at a reporter. He then threatens to shoot him. The act is so egregious that another officer quickly intervenes and directs the bad cop to away from the media. When asked for his name, the bad cop responds "Go F--k Yourself". Thankfully, he got suspended.
To be fair, it is only a handful of cops there that have engaged in this illegal behavior. If 15cops out of say 4000 do this, those 15 taint the entire organization.
Two journalists sitting in McDonalds last week, taking a break from working when heavily armed cops barged in and told them to leave. They were complying and gathering up their expensive equipment, when one of the bad cops grabs them,slamming them into a soda machine and arrests them. They were released later with no charges. A good lawyer can get about 100 grand each. Photographers who are not protesting are singled out for arrest. Many times they are released without charges. This has happened over 20 times in the last week. In spite of a direct order from the President of the United States to stop targeting journalists.
Now here, in a nutshell is why you do not bother the media. They are getting your message out. If rouge cops arrest and hassle them ,the message will change and it will not be yours. They will put the message out that the cops want calm but how can there by calm when our own reporters are singled out for arrest? Then they switch the focus from your message to what will inflame the crowd. That will include peoples opinion, race baiters screaming ,"No justice no peace". Coupled that with pictures and video of the reporters and everyday protesters getting arrested and suddenly, the police become the bad guys. Not just one or two cops but the entire dept.
The story that reads 15 people were arrested for setting buildings on fire or looting is reported simply as 15 protesters arrested. The crowd does not know they were arrested for actually doing bad things they know what they were being told. So now,with every idiot with a cell phone ready to share their video on social media sites, coupled with bonafide journalists it's a safe bet that everything the cops do is being recorded. Here is the McDonalds Incident.
It does not matter what happened during the Brown confrontation that started this all. When the cops target the media we all lose. There is no reason to fire tear gas directly at a news crew (which happened in the above link as well). The American People are starting to wonder what the cops in St. Louis are hiding. When the story switches to the media getting arrested and targeted, it's never a good thing. The reason is the American People do not like being told what they can and cannot see. They will decide. The only reason to target the media for arrest is to dissuade them from showing something the cops do not want the American People to see.
Anyone that thinks the media members are going to jail or they did something wrong to get arrested can be sold valuable real estate on the moon. Many are roughed up and released . It's still a lawsuit waiting to happen. For those that are charged,unless they were rioting,the DA will offer to drop the charges as long as they keep their record clean and expunge the arrest. For those that do not take the deal, they may offer to drop all charges in exchange for promising not to sue. For those that do not take the deal,( and many will not) a trial will commence where the judge and jury will see the facts and the journalist will be acquitted. Then come the civil lawsuits. If the lawsuits settle for about 100 grand each and 10 are filed, That's a million dollars paid out to keep someone from recording what the cops are doing. Plus attorneys fees. The Brown family has all but said they will file a suit as well.
Many are glad that the arrogant cop was taken off the street. He has now been renamed as "Officer Go Fu--Yourself". Working to police a riot is a stressful job. Do the media cameras excite the crowd? Yes they do to a certain extent. That is where good communications skills come in to play. It then transforms from crowd control to crowd management. When cops successfully manage the crowd they will ( for the most part) do what the cops want them to do. When cops manage the media, the story becomes what they want it to be, with less time devoted to rioters and no reports of confrontations with someone the cops need to get their message out.