Two reporters working out of a McDonalds in Ferguson, Mo. say they were arrested and assaulted for no apparent reason while covering the increasingly violent clash between police and protestors on Wednesday night. Both were eventually released without being charged.
According to reports, Washington Post reporter Wesley Lowery and Huffington Post reporter Ryan J. Reilly were both arrested, handcuffed and booked. Once word of their arrests began circulating on social media, they were immediately released.
The already-tense situation in Ferguson escalated earlier today, when SWAT teams descended on the largely peaceful protests that have been taking place since an unarmed 18-year-old named Michael Brown was shot and killed by a police officer Saturday.
Lowery and Reilly were both apparently working from a Ferguson McDonalds when a SWAT team entered the restaurant. After posting initial tweets about the encounter, both reporters went offline just before 5 pm.
Around the same time, other reporters in the area began to tweet that two reporters were being arrested and handcuffed.
At that point, LA Times reporter Matt Pearce began investigating the arrests.
Pearce wrote on Twitter that the Ferguson police chief told him the arresting officers were "probably somebody who didn't know better." According to Pearce, the chief then instructed riot command to release them.
About 45 minutes after Lowery and Reilly's last tweets, they came back online.
Lowery, who says he was slammed into a fountain soda machine during his arrest, wrote on Twitter that he was "Detained, booked, given answers to no questions. Then just let out... Got no explaination at any point why in custody other than "trespassing" - at a mcdonalds where we were customers."
Update 10:30 pm:
The Washington Post has obtained video of the arrest:
Update 11:40 pm:
According to Lowery, police entered the McDonalds on Wednesday afternoon and demanded he and Pearce identify themselves. When Pearce questioned the directive, one officer apparently told him that if they called 911, no one would answer.
The officers later told Lowery and Pearce that they'd have to stop filming and leave the McDonalds. Lowery says he was given conflicting instructions and when he stopped to adjust his bag, they arrested him.
Multiple officers grabbed me. I tried to turn my back to them to assist them in arresting me. I dropped the things from my hands.
"My hands are behind my back," I said. "I'm not resisting. I'm not resisting." At which point one officer said: "You're resisting. Stop resisting."
That was when I was most afraid — more afraid than of the tear gas and rubber bullets.
As they took me into custody, the officers slammed me into a soda machine, at one point setting off the Coke dispenser. They put plastic cuffs on me, then they led me out the door.
Lowery and Pearce were then loaded into a police van, where Lowery says a large man with breathing problems pleaded for a medic to no avail.
The reporters were then transported to a local police station, processed, and jailed. When they asked for the cause of their arrest, a cop reportedly told them they were trespassing in the McDonalds.
[image via AP]