Media Harassment In Ferguson, Mo., on Rise as Al Jazeera America Adds to Complaints

Police in Ferguson, Mo., fired rubber bullets at a news crew working for Al Jazeera America, according to the cable-news outlet, raising the number of journalists who have reported tussles with authorities there as they seek to cover violence and protest breaking out in the St. Louis suburb.

The Al Jazeera crew “were easily identifiable as a working television crew,” said Jocelyn Austin, a spokeswoman for the Qatar-backed cable network. “As they were setting up their camera for a live report, tear gas canisters landed in their proximity and police fired rubber bullets in their direction. Police continued to shoot after crew members clearly and repeatedly shouted ‘Press.’ ”

Unrest has broken out in Ferguson after the killing of Michael Brown, a local teen who was shot and killed by police last weekend.

Two reporters covering recent events in the area for other outlets – Wesley Lowery of the Washington Post and Ryan Reilly of the Huffington Post – reported they were arrested by police in a restaurant for what they said was no discernible reason. Both were released without being charged. Other journalists and photojournalists working in the area have complained of being shot at with rubber bullets.

Al Jazeera has requested an investigation of police conduct. “Al Jazeera America is stunned by this egregious assault on freedom of the press that was clearly intended to have a chilling effect on our ability to cover this important story. Thankfully all three crew members are physically fine,” Austin said. “We believe that this situation must be investigated along with those involving our colleagues at other media outlets.”

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