The U.S. government agreed to a police request to restrict more than 37 square miles of airspace surrounding Ferguson, Missouri, for purported safety reasons during 12 days of protests in August — but audio recordings obtained by The Associated Press show that local authorities privately acknowledged the purpose was to keep away news helicopters.The new revelation is fresh evidence of the tension between law enforcement and media in the St. Louis suburb, where reporters and photographers said they suffered harassment by police while covering protests over the shooting of an unarmed black teenager by a white police officer this summer.
Examples include police firing tear gas at an Al Jazeera television crew, and officers arresting two reporters — Ryan J. Reilley of The Huffington Post and Michael Lowery of The Washington Post — as they sat charging their phones at a McDonald’s restaurant near the demonstration.
Authorities released the journalists hours later without charges, having swept them up for allegedly not leaving the restaurant fast enough after they were ordered to do so. Scott Olson, a Getty photographer, suffered a similar fate in police actions widely condemned by media organizations and press-freedom advocates. Police also told demonstrators, some of them citizen journalists, that they were not allowed to film officers, despite it being within their constitutional rights to do so.
But the AP’s exclusive report reveals a higher level of police attempts to hamstring media coverage of the demonstrations. On Aug. 12, the morning after the Federal Aviation Administration imposed the first flight restriction, FAA air traffic managers struggled to redefine the flight ban to let commercial flights operate at nearby Lambert-St. Louis International Airport and police helicopters fly through the area — but to bar others.
Read more @: Ferguson police used flight restrictions to muzzle media, with feds' help
More proof of squashing freedom of the press in Ferguson. We were told there was a flight ban over parts of the city because of "safety" but in reality these audio recordings prove it was to try to silence some of the press.