Thursday, August 14, 2014

News: Al Jazeera America

Al Jazeera America Reporters Targeted by Police at St. Louis Riots

Updated with comments from Ash-har Quraishi, chief correspondent for Al Jazeera America at the channel’s Chicago Bureau (below).

Reporters form cable news network Al Jazeera America were targeted by police last night in the St. Louis suburb Ferguson where riots have been breaking out since police killed 18-year-old Michael Brown.

A statement from Al Jazeera America spokesperson Jocelyn Austin:

"Last night at 10:30pm in Ferguson, Mo., an Al Jazeera America news crew was reporting behind police barricades. They were easily identifiable as a working television crew. 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.'

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. 

We believe that this situation must be investigated along with those involving our colleagues at other media outlets."

From Ash-har Quraishi

“We were very surprised by this, we had been there for about an hour. We had been in contact with police officers who were just feet away from us. I had spoken to police officers who knew we were there. We had had discussions with them. We understood this was as far as we could get in terms of where the protest was going on, about a mile up the road. So, we didn’t think there would be any problems here so we were very surprised.”

“We were very close to where those [tear gas] canisters were shot from. We yelled, as you heard there [on the video]. We were yelling that we were press. But they continued to fire. We retreated about half a block into the neighborhood, until we could get out of that situation.”

“Police have said that protestors tossed Molotov cocktails in their direction. We didn’t see that because we weren’t close enough in. Again, as you mentioned, we didn’t have gas masks because we were about a mile away….”

“We thought we were at a safe distance but clearly, they pushed through and actually fired [tear gas] canisters into the neighborhood.”

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