Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Post-Dispatch Demands Charges Be Dropped against Reporter Covering Protest

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Post-Dispatch Demands Charges Be Dropped against Reporter Covering Protest

Article excerpt

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Wednesday condemned the "inappropriate and highly disturbing" arrest of one of its journalists on Sunday during a mass arrest by St. Louis police officers, and demanded that the city drop charges against him.

In a letter to Mayor Lyda Krewson, Acting Police Chief Lawrence O'Toole, City Counselor Julian Bush and Deputy City Counselor Michael Garvin, a lawyer for the newspaper also demanded that the city implement protocols to prevent "any recurrence of arrests of journalists who are covering these important events and who are engaged in no criminal activity whatsoever."

Mike Faulk, 31, was on assignment covering the protests and vandalism that occurred downtown that night. He was wearing his news media credentials on a lanyard. Faulk was on the sidewalk near Tucker Boulevard and Washington Avenue as police used a tactic called "kettling" to round up about 100 people.

The action took place 40 minutes after police had issued an order several blocks away for the crowd to disperse. Two other Post-Dispatch journalists, and others including a man with a baby in a stroller barely escaped the lines of approaching officers by going into private businesses along Washington Avenue. As police closed in, Faulk tweeted that he had nowhere to go.

"St. Louis Post-Dispatch journalists and other credentialed news media provide critical information to the public," said Post-Dispatch Editor Gilbert Bailon. "When St. Louis police arrested Mike, after he fully identified himself while covering the protests, they violated basic tenets of our democracy. Additionally, the physical abuse he suffered during the arrest is abhorrent and must be investigated. The Post-Dispatch is calling for our city leaders to immediately implement policies that will prevent journalists from being arrested without cause."

Krewson said she had just received the letter and was reviewing it: "I've asked the Public Safety Department to review the situation described in the letter. We certainly don't want to arrest reporters who are just doing their jobs."

A spokeswoman for O'Toole said questions should be directed to the city counselor's office.

Bush said Wednesday, "These are disturbing allegations, and we need to know more."

The letter, by attorney Joseph E. Martineau, of the Lewis Rice law firm, said officers should have released Faulk immediately after recognizing he was covering a story, and allowed him to keep working.

Instead, he was arrested with "unneeded and inappropriate force" that caused injury to both legs, his back and wrist. Faulk was "forcefully pushed to the ground by police officers and a police officer's boot was placed on his head." After his wrists were bound with zip ties, a police officer "deliberately sprayed him in the face with pepper spray, mace or some other stinging substance. …

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