FERGUSON, Missouri — As police in this St. Louis suburb turned out in force Wednesday evening to discourage another night of unrest, they unleashed a brief contretemps by arresting a pair of reporters.
Protests have occurred every night since a Ferguson police officer fatally shot a young black man on Saturday. The reporters were among those who came to Missouri to cover the shooting and its aftermath.
The action appeared to catch Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson by surprise.
“Oh, God,” he told the Los Angeles Times when he learned what had happened. Jackson called the St. Louis County Police Department, which was heading the command Wednesday night.
“I told them to release them,” Jackson told The Times.
Lowery and Reilly were set free shortly thereafter. The chief said his staff had been unaware of the arrests until notified by a reporter.
Jackson said Reilly and Lowery had interviewed him earlier in the day and had asked thoughtful questions. He said whoever arrested them was “probably somebody who didn’t know better.”
Lowery and Reilly tweeted that they were in a McDonald’s near a demonstration when police came inside and asked patrons to leave.
“Officers slammed me into a fountain soda machine because I was confused about which door they were asking me to walk out of,” Lowery tweeted after his release. “Was waiting to be taken away, large black man SCREAMING for help in back of police truck. They refused his calls for paramedics. ‘I’m dying. I’m dying. Please call help’ he screamed. They mocked him.”
Lowery said he was released without paperwork or explanation.
Since the unrest began Saturday night, dozens of protesters have been arrested and one has been critically wounded by gunfire.
LA Times staff writers James Queally, Lauren Raab and Ryan Parker contributed to this report.
Distributed by MCT Information Services