The arrest of two reporters from the Washington Post and Huffington Post on Wednesday, as well as the tear gassing of an Al-Jazeera news crew, generated a tremendous amount of negative publicity for police in Ferguson, Missouri, and it seemed, briefly, that authorities there had concluded that cooperating with the media was a smarter tactic. However, on Sunday night, tensions flared again between cops and reporters. Just before 11 p.m. three journalists reported on Twitter that they had been handcuffed and detained by police. Others said cops were threatening to mace them, and then on a live stream with more than 45,000 viewers, an officer was caught on tape yelling at a reporter, “Get the fuck out of here. You get that light off, or you’re getting shot with this.”
The audio clip posted online isn’t clear, and there’s disagreement over whether the officer said “getting shot” or “getting shelled.” Here’s video of the incident, with captions by Daily Intelligencer:
Later Mustafa Hussein, who was operating KARG Argus Radio’s live-stream broadcast, is heard complaining to an officer that he was told to “get the fuck out of here or I will shoot you with this,” while a gun was pointed in his face. The second officer refuses to give Hussein the other cop’s name, but identifies himself as Captain Todd and says he’ll follow up with him tomorrow.
Several journalists on the scene reported hearing similar threats:
We Act Radio shared a photo of a producer who had been shot with a beanbag. The Huffington Post’s Amanda Terkel and MSNBC’s Chris Hayes said police were threatening to mace journalists:
When Chris Hayes called in to MSNBC, police were heard in the background saying, “Media do not pass us. You’re getting maced next time you pass us.” When asked why he was being threatened with mace, Hayes said, “Because they’re generally hopped up and angry and pissed off, and aren’t excited that there’s about 50 reporters watching what they’re doing, I would imagine, though you’d have to ask him.”
Earlier, Sports Illustrated’s Robert Klemko, the Telegraph’s Rob Crilly and the Financial Times’ Neil Munshi tweeted that they were detained and quickly released with little explanation.
Munshi took issue with those reporting that they had been “arrested”:
Klemko explained what led to the incident: