Media making up the mob: Journalists amid protesters in Ferguson, Mo.


Police try to disperse a crowd in Ferguson, Mo. early Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014. (Jeff Roberson/AP)

“All media please move to the designated area.”

That’s the common call from police in Ferguson, Mo., where journalists are asked to stay out of the way of police and avoid exacerbating riots.

Missouri State Highway Patrol Capt. Ronald Johnson lectured reporters in a news conference Tuesday, asking them keep clear of the roads so police could move through. He also asked them to be careful in their reporting.

“Let’s not glamorize the acts of criminals,” he said.

Moments before a press conference early Tuesday, Johnson told CNN: “I’m hoping when I’m done with that briefing, the press and I are still friends.”

In the past 11 days, the media, whose ranks have swelled into the hundreds, have taken heat from law enforcement officials who have asked them to leave — while some protesters have asked them to stay.

A total of at least 11 journalists covering the Ferguson protests have been arrested, according to CNN, starting with Washington Post reporter Wesley Lowery and Huffington Post reporter Ryan Reilly.

Early Wednesday, Lowery estimated that the size of the group protesting and the media covering it was about even — between 100 and 150 of each.

Los Angeles Times reporter Matt Pearce said the media have inadvertently created issues.

Still, Lowery said reporters were behaving themselves.

But they faced reprisals anyway.

Lowery reported that, after a bottle was thrown at police early Wednesday, police aggressively attempted to separate the media from the remaining protesters, who likely numbered just over a hundred.

Police ordered media into a staging area and told remaining residents to walk in the other direction. Some residents refused. At that point, a team of officers stormed into the media pen with weapons drawn and made arrests.

Missouri State Highway Patrol Capt. Ronald Johnson later said officers moved in as the alleged agitators “hid behind the media for protection.”

Officers then escorted the media down West Florissant Avenue. Protesters surrounded the pack. Police threatened them to get them to move.

Ultimately, officers got the group to the McDonalds parking lot where they were able to convince the last remaining protesters to disperse just before 1:30 a.m.

Lindsey Bever is a national news reporter for The Washington Post. She writes for the Morning Mix news blog. Tweet her: @lindseybever
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