The police leader with authority over the policing effort of the racially-charged protests in Ferguson, Missouri, thinks “a lot” of the media has played a part in enabling the violence.
In an interview with MSNBC on Tuesday morning, Missouri Highway Patrol Captain Ron Johnson accused reporters of swarming around agitators, giving “them a platform and glamoriz[ing] their activity.”
“We have a lot of media that have not done a great job. Last night, when crowds were walking and small groups — and they got larger, and they were just walking — and then when a certain element — that criminal element, that got out here with masks on, that wanted to agitate and build up the crowd, would stop in front of the media — the media would swarm around them, give them a platform and glamorize their activity,” Johnson said, according to a Mediaite video of the interview.
When the media promotes the disruptive protesters, Johnson argued, the more violent demonstrators rush to the scene.
“And then before we knew it, the crowd was 100. Now it’s 200. Now it’s 300,” Johnson said. “And now those criminals began to start throwing things out of the crowd that was standing within the media.”
Johnson was recently named to manage the police response to the protests, which began when 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot and killed during an Aug. 9 encounter with police. The demonstrations have also resulted in an aggressive police crack down. Officers have repeatedly arrested journalists covering the event, including four reporters and photographers Monday night.
Johnson also made sure to praise another segment of the media — but “not all,” he was sure to note — which he felt has been doing its job responsibly.
“We had a number of journalists — and not all, I want to say that now — the journalists have been on our side, they have been our partners in reporting,” he said. “You know I get home each morning, I look at the news and I am really grateful to the media for what they have done.”
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