Ugly Nighttime Scenes Continue on Streets of Ferguson, Missouri
FERGUSON, Mo. (CN) - Police arrested 47 people - including a man from Austin, Texas for the third time - as protests in the streets of Ferguson, Mo., turned violent Tuesday for a fifth consecutive night. A reporter was among those arrested, bringing to 12 the number of reporters arrested while covering the protests.
The reporter's name and organization were not known as of press time. Seventy-eight people were arrested on Monday.
Tuesday's peaceful protest turned ugly at midnight when bottles were thrown at police.
Police sprayed Mace, but shot no tear gas.
Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson told reporters that urine was thrown at officers.
Washington Post reporter Wesley Lowery witnessed the arrest of the reporter Tuesday. Lowery said an officer shoved the man as he tried to take a picture.
Lowery tweeted: "Officer shoves reporter. 'Get that camera out of my face.' Reporter asks for his name. 'Go fuck yourself,' officer responds."
Tensions between media and police were palpable Tuesday, less than 24 hours after Johnson criticized reporters for interfering with police and for not leaving an area when asked to.
Some officers threatened to arrest reporters Tuesday for standing still outside the designated media area. Police on Saturday imposed a new rule , prohibiting people from standing still for more than 5 seconds on Ferguson sidewalks. The rule was challenged Monday in court.
Johnson was testy with a media swarm as he surveyed the protest early Tuesday evening. He bristled when a reporter asked if another police officer-involved shooting that day in north St. Louis would affect the Ferguson protest.
"We have to understand that this is the world that we live in, so let's quit throwing rocks into things or marbles of different colors into the bag just so we can inflame a certain situation," Johnson said. "This situation is here, and too often over the last couple of days, some people have gotten distracted."
Police on Tuesday moved the designated media area north to the intersection of West Florissant and Canfield, which was ground zero for the violence Monday night.
Several reporters wondered out loud if the move was made to send a message.
"You guys wanted a piece of the action," a police officer stationed near the area joked with a reporter.
Huffington Post reporter Ryan Reilly was arrested along with Lowery last Wednesday. They were in a McDonald's charging up laptops and working when police cleared the restaurant and arrested them for moving too slow.
Reilly and Lowery were eventually released without any charges, but the incident helped Reilly empathize with the protesters' plight.
"Frankly, as a white guy, I don't expect that," Reilly told Courthouse News. "Sad but true. I usually don't have to live in fear of police officers. It's usually, 'Watch your speeding; that would suck if you got a ticket.' But I've never lived in fear of police officers before and this was a situation that changed that."
The arrest of Lowery and Reilly drew international headlines and condemnation from President Barack Obama.
It also prompted a coalition of media covering the Ferguson protests, which included Courthouse News, to write a letter on Friday to Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson, St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar and Missouri Highway Patrol Col. Ronald Replogle.
"Officers on the ground must understand that gathering news and recording police activities are not crimes," states the letter from the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press . "The actions in Ferguson demonstrate a lack of training among local law enforcement in the protections required by the First Amendment as well as the absence of respect for the role of newsgatherers. We implore police leadership to rectify this failing to ensure that these incidents do not occur again."
Since then, 10 more journalists have been arrested.
A St. Louis County grand jury today is expected to hear evidence on Officer Darren Wilson's fatal shooting of Michael Brown on Aug. 9, which set off the weeks of protests.
On Tuesday, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon announced that he would not ask St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Bob McCulloch to recuse himself from the investigation of Michael Brown's shooting death. Critics, including several political leaders, have questioned McCulloch's ability to conduct a fair investigation.
"From the outset, I have been clear about the need to have a vigorous prosecution of this case, and that includes minimizing any potential legal uncertainty," Nixon said in a statement. "I am not asking St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch to recuse himself from this case. There is a well-established process by which a prosecutor can recuse themselves from a pending investigation, and a special prosecutor be appointed. Departing from this established process could unnecessarily inject legal uncertainty into this matter and potentially jeopardize the prosecution."
McCulloch is expected to convene a grand jury Wednesday to begin hearing evidence in the Michael Brown shooting.
Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster walked through the protest Tuesday night and mingled with protesters. Koster did not address the media, but answered protesters' questions, listened to suggestions and assured them that their right to peacefully assemble would be protected.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is expected in Ferguson today.