Ferguson Police and St. Louis County Police haven't changed a bit in the year since Mike Brown was gunned down by Darren Wilson, and the way protesters were treated over the last 48 hours proves it.
First, Washington Post reporter Wesley Lowery has been charged with trespassing and interfering with a police officer stemming from his coverage of the Ferguson protests from last year.
Wesley Lowery, a reporter on The Post’s national desk, was detained in a McDonald’s while he was in Missouri covering demonstrations sparked by a white police officer fatally shooting an unarmed black 18-year-old.
A court summons dated Aug. 6 — just under a year after Lowery’s arrest — was sent to Lowery, 25, ordering him to appear in a St. Louis County municipal court on Aug. 24. The summons notes that he could be arrested if he does not appear.
“Charging a reporter with trespassing and interfering with a police officer when he was just doing his job is outrageous,” Martin Baron, executive editor of The Post, said in a statement Monday. “You’d have thought law enforcement authorities would have come to their senses about this incident. Wes Lowery should never have been arrested in the first place. That was an abuse of police authority.
“This latest action represents contemptible overreaching by prosecutors who seem to have no regard for the role of journalists seeking to cover a major story and following normal practice,” Baron continued.
According to the summons, Lowery is being charged with trespassing on private property despite being asked to leave. He is also charged with interfering with a police officer’s performance of his duties because, the summons alleges, he failed to comply with “repeated commands to immediately exit” the restaurant.
It is very, very noticeable that Lowery is so far the only reporter charged with a criminal act from last year's coverage of Ferguson...and that Lowery is black.
Meanwhile, armed white men were allowed to roam free, unaccounted, in Ferguson on Monday night.
Heavily-armed members of a controversial right-wing "patriot" group added an extra dose of unease to protests in Ferguson, Missouri, early Tuesday.
The Oath Keepers organization says its members — all former military, police and first responders — pledge to "defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic."
However, St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar described their presence as "both unnecessary and inflammatory."
Protesters and police confirmed that a handful of Oath Keepers with what appeared to be assault rifles, bulletproof vest and camouflage gear were seen early Tuesday on the streets of Ferguson, which was under a state of emergency following demonstrations pegged to the anniversary of Michael Brown's death.
Several protesters confronted members of the group, asking why they were allowed to openly carry weapons.
"I'm happy that we're able to defend ourselves," one Oath Keeper replied in footage from NBC station KSDK. "It's been our right for a long time."
The St. Louis County Police Department said it would consult with the St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorneys Office about the legalities of the issue.
Missouri allows individuals with concealed weapons permits to openly display firearms, unless it is done in an "angry or threatening manner."
Shawn McGuire, a spokesman for St. Louis County Police, said he did not believe officers had confronted the Oath Keepers or told to leave.
"We do not know who sent them," he added.
Inflammatory, but unlike the dozens of unarmed black protesters rounded up by cops for sitting at a courthouse earlier Monday afternoon, these idiots remained untouched by police.
I guarantee you that if these were Ferguson's black residents who showed up armed and carrying openly like that, there would have been an absolute bloodbath in the streets of Ferguson last night. But these Oath Keepers clowns were white, so it was 100% OK. No police harassment, no arrests. No tear gas, no tasers, nothing.
When I talk about institutionalized racism in Ferguson, and in America, this is what I mean.