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Statement from ASNE about situation in Ferguson

 
As an organization whose core mission includes protecting freedom of the press, the American Society of News Editors is especially disturbed by the events taking place this week in Ferguson, Missouri. From police physically assaulting citizens engaged in peaceful protest to arresting without cause reporters from The Washington Post and The Huffington Post, it is clear that there is a concerted, top-down effort to restrict the fundamental First Amendment rights of the public and the press.
 

As an organization whose core mission includes protecting freedom of the press, the American Society of News Editors is especially disturbed by the events taking place this week in Ferguson, Missouri. From police physically assaulting citizens engaged in peaceful protest to arresting without cause reporters from The Washington Post and The Huffington Post, it is clear that there is a concerted, top-down effort to restrict the fundamental First Amendment rights of the public and the press.

 

"From the beginning of this situation, the police have made conscious decisions to restrict information and images coming from Ferguson," said ASNE President David Boardman. "Of course, these efforts largely have been unsuccessful, as the nation and the world are still seeing for themselves the heinous actions of the police. For every reporter they arrest, every image they block, every citizen they censor, another will still write, photograph and speak."

 

ASNE acknowledges that there has been illegal violence and looting by some members of the public and that law enforcement must respond appropriately. But we remind the police and the nation that speaking out in protest is not a crime, reporting on that protest is not a crime and taking photographs of it is not a crime. Violating the civil rights of citizens by restricting these activities is a crime. We further call on the U.S. Department of Justice to take any and all appropriate action to protect the First Amendment rights of everyone involved.

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