On Saturday, Politico’s Byron Tau said reporters attempting to cover the riots and looting in Ferguson, Missouri, were “aggressively” harassed and threatened by rioters, many of whom carried Molotov cocktails.
Friday’s protests were initially peaceful, the New York Times said. But things began to get out of hand around midnight, when authorities released a small amount of tear gas. Protesters threw rocks and other objects, the Times said, adding that others fired weapons into the air.
But Tau presented a different picture, telling of looters vandalizing stores, pulling merchandise off the shelves along with alcohol and lottery tickets. Multiple reporters, he added, were “repeatedly and forcefully” told to put their cameras ont he ground and leave.
Reporters were also threatened by protesters who claimed to have weapons, he said, but no one reported actually seeing a weapon. The Washington Post’s Wesley Lowery said on Twitter that one protester “just threatened to pull knife” on him and another reporter outside a liquor store being looted. Tau also made a number of observations on Twitter.
“Protestors are now threatening reporters with violence for recording,” he said in one tweet. A few minutes later, he said there was “[m]assive looting at the store where Michael Brown was accused of stealing. Media have been repeatedly threatened while recording.”
A post at the Gateway Pundit said news crews from CNN and Al Jazeera America were reportedly threatened by protesters. Unfortunately, Kristinn Taylor said, “there was no outcry from the media of Hamas-like treatment by the Ferguson looters.” As we reported in July, journalists in Gaza reporting that Hamas uses human shields were targeted with death threats.
As a result of being targeted by looters, reporters huddled in small groups away from the riot, Tau said. Some reporters, he added, wore gas masks while veteran photographers wore helmets as protection from flying objects.
“It’s a marked change from earlier in the week, when it was police officers who demanded that the media stay out of the area of the protests,” he added. Earlier in the week, two reporters were briefly detained by officers after disobeying orders against making video recordings of the police.
“Imagine the outrage by the media and political elites if this were done by Tea Party activists,” Taylor added. According to the Times, the crowd had “mostly” broken up by 4 a.m. Saturday morning.