The police chief of Ferguson, Missouri had a stunned response after he learned his officers arrested a pair of reporters who were covering the ongoing protests that began in the city after an unarmed African-American teenager was shot by police there on Saturday. According to the Los Angeles Times, Chief Thomas Jackson was shocked when he found out the Washington Post’s Wesley Lowery and the Huffington Post’s Ryan Reilly were arrested Wednesday evening.
“Oh God,” Jackson said after learning of the arrests.
The Times said Jackson claimed he immediately called the St. Louis County Police Department, which was leading the command, after learning the reporters were in custody.
Police have said the teenager who was killed, Michael Brown, attempted to attack an officer and take his gun. Protesters have accused law enforcement in Ferguson of engaging in racial profiling. Officers have responded to the protests with rubber bullets and tear gas.
Both Reilly and Lowery said they were taken into custody and released soon after SWAT teams came into a McDonald’s restaurant where they were working Wednesday.
Lowery did not respond to a request for comment from Business Insider. Reilly, who said he was held with Lowery, told Business Insider he did not hear from Jackson after his arrest.
“We asked to speak with him when we left,” Reilly said of Jackson. “I think he was probably closer to the protests.”
Reilly said police released him and Lowery after asking if they were members of the press.
“When we were in our cell, an officer came through and asked if were were journalists. We were both in the same cell and said we were journalists,” Reilly recounted. “We were then taken out, given our bags, and sent on our way without any answers.”
Reilly said he and Lowery were given a police report number.
“They said it would probably be a couple weeks before we got the report,” he explained.
Reilly added that he did not travel to Missouri “intending to be the story.”
“There are people who have probably been treated much worse,” said Reilly. “We have the privilege that we’re journalists and we’ve been given a get out of jail free card because of the sort of coverage that would result if we were kept in jail.”
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