St. Louis County, Mo., is dropping charges against two reporters who were arrested in 2014 while covering protests in Ferguson, Mo., after the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown. Wesley Lowery of the Washington Post and Ryan Reilly of the Huffington Post were arrested by police who were clearing a McDonald’s in which the reporters were working alongside other journalists. Almost a year passed before formal charges of trespassing and interfering with a police officer were filed against the pair. Those charges were dropped yesterday in a settlement in which the two Washington-based reporters agreed not to sue the county, the Washington Post reports.
“Wesley Lowery should never have been arrested in the first place,” Post Executive Editor Martin Baron said. “That abuse of authority was made worse with the charges brought a year later, showing a lack of respect for the role of journalists in a free society. We’re pleased to see that the charges are finally being dropped, though we remain incensed at how an excellent reporter was treated.” Lowery and Reilly were in Ferguson to cover the protests over Brown’s death after the unarmed black teenager was shot by a white police officer, Darren Wilson. On the day of the arrests, officers first cleared the McDonald’s of its patrons, Lowery said. Journalists were allowed to stay but were warned that their safety could not be guaranteed. Police returned a short time later and instructed the reporters to clear the restaurant, too. Lowery was arrested while trying to leave and Reilly was arrested while arguing with an officer.