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Is the First Amendment dead? Police in Ferguson threaten to kill reporters

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
8/20/2014 (2 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Commentators call for the officer to be identified.

Overnight, a police officer in Ferguson, MO threatened to kill a member of the press and was recorded doing so. Now a campaign has started online to identify the officer and remove him from the front lines in Ferguson before he really does act out on his threat.

The unidentified officer will be found and it is unclear if he will face discipline for threatening to kill journalists.

The unidentified officer will be found and it is unclear if he will face discipline for threatening to kill journalists.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
8/20/2014 (2 years ago)

Published in U.S.

Keywords: Ferguson, police, crime, heavy, equipment, officer, journalist, threaten, kill, M4


FERGUSON, MO (Catholic Online) - For over a week, the protests have kept up as heavily-armed police face off against the public. The mounting public frustration has attracted world attention and is manifested in the slow escalation on part of the public.

Members of the public have thrown bottles of urine and possibly molotov cocktails at riot police. The National Guard has been deployed. So far, despite verbal exchanges and the use of tear gas, no lives have been lost. It's unclear if that will hold. At least two people have been shot in related violence. Looting has occurred.

Pray for peace and justice in Ferguson and in our nation.

Tensions are escalating and that was on visible display last night when a journalist, filming with his colleagues approached an area where law enforcement had established a heavy presence.

As the journalists approached, they noticed the officer had a small machine gun (likely an M4) pointed at the crowd. Calling this out on video, they approached to film the officer. The officer ordered the journalists to stand back and warned, "I'm going to f***ing kill you."

To be clear, an armed, uniformed police officer pointed the weapon directly at a citizen journalist and threatened to kill him.

The reporter, responded urgently that his hands were raised, so that no display of threat could be construed.

"Are you going to kill him?" an incredulous bystander asked the officer. The journalist asks, "did he just threaten to kill me?"

The journalist asks the officer for his name. "Go f*** yourself!" was the reply.

A moment later, a female officer appears to intervene, persuading the angered cop to lower his weapon. Both the officer and journalist appear to move on from the scene of the incident.

The incident went viral by morning with the officer branded "#officergof***yourself."

Several witnesses tweeted the incident. Anonymous, the hacktivist collective has been asked to help identify the officer, who is plainly visible in at least one good photo.

Although authorities say they are trying to deescalate the tensions in Ferguson, they have been hostile to all approaches of the public and the media. Within a day of the start of the protests, the Federal Aviation Administration banned aircraft from the area, which includes news helicopters.

We need to ask the question, "Is the First Amendment dead?" Americans can no longer peaceably assemble without being met by a show of militarized police force. Journalists can no longer approach the police without being threatened. News helicopters cannot film from the air. What are the authorities trying to hide? The protestors have no weapons or motivation to shoot down a news helicopter.

It is entirely possible that Ferguson is a dress rehersal for the future. It is the second major standoff in America between the public and a heavily-armed executive. It seems the nation could be one trigger pull or mishap away from something much more serious than a public protest in a small Midwestern town.

Well, if the First Amendment really is dead, perhaps we should be.

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