CLAYTON, Mo. (CN) — Charges have been dropped against two reporters who were arrested while covering the protests in Ferguson, Mo.
Washington Post reporter Wesley Lowery and Ryan Reilly of the Huffington Post were arrested on Aug. 13, 2014, as they worked on their laptops at a McDonald’s in Ferguson.
A few days short of a year later, they were charged with trespassing and interfering with a police officer.
St. Louis County has dropped the charges in exchange for Lowery and Reilly agreeing not to sue it for the arrests.
“Wesley Lowery should never have been charged in the first place,” Washington Post executive editor Marty Baron said in a statement.
“That abuse of authority was made worse with the charges brought a year later, showing a lack of respect for the role of journalists in a free society. We’re pleased to see that the charges are finally being dropped, though we remain incensed at how an excellent reporter was treated.”
Lowery had a message for prosecutors in a statement in The Washington Post.
“Ryan and I have maintained from day one that our arrests were inappropriate, and the decision to charge us a year later was outrageous,” Lowery said.
“The decision to drop these charges further confirms what we’ve said all along: We were two journalists doing our jobs who never should have been detained, much less charged.
“I sincerely hope St. Louis County prosecutors apply their newfound wisdom broadly and cease prosecution of the dozens of others, journalists and otherwise, who still face charges for lawful expression of their First Amendment rights during the unrest in Ferguson.”
Lowery and Reilly were in Ferguson to cover protests of the Aug. 9, 2014, shooting death of Michael Brown, an unarmed black man, by Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson, who is white.
The shooting sparked months of often violent protests and thrust the issues of racism and excessive force by police into national headlines.
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