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8.19.2014

AAJA speaks out on Ferguson

Asian American Journalists Association urges local authorities to respect the rights of journalists



The Asian American Journalists Association, of which I am a dues-paying member, has issued a statement on the events happening in Ferguson, Missouri in response to the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown.

AAJA urges authorities in Ferguson, Mo., to respect the rights of journalists

In particular, AAJA condemns the actions taken by local authorities against journalists covering the unfolding events in Ferguson, citing threats, arrests, and violence against reporters and photographers who have been trying to cover the story on the ground as it unfolds. According to the statement, authorities have "disrupted the work of getting out the facts in a challenging environment."

Here's the full statement:

AAJA urges authorities in Ferguson, Mo., to respect the rights of journalists

The circumstances surrounding the Aug. 9 shooting of a young black man, Michael Brown, in Ferguson, Missouri, remain in dispute. While we at the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) are in no position to judge how local authorities are handling their investigation, we join those who are keeping a watchful eye.

We are dismayed by the actions taken by local authorities against journalists covering the story.

They've arrested reporters and photographers, and disrupted the work of getting out the facts in a challenging environment. In some cases, journalists were detained even after following the directions of authorities. Other journalists have reported being threatened by police, sometimes with mace and violence.

We consider this harassment. A free press is vital in protecting our democracy.

What's happening in Ferguson is important for many reasons, particularly when racial tensions continue to divide some of our communities. We need journalists — not only to chronicle events but to serve as the ears and eyes of our society. We need journalists to be our watchdogs.

AAJA urges authorities to respect the rights of reporters and photographers and allow them to do the important work of informing the public of what is transpiring in Ferguson.

Paul Cheung, AAJA President
Zain Shauk and Bobby Caina Calvan, MediaWatch Committee

Other organizations, including the American Society of News Editors, National Association of Black Journalists, Society of Professional Journalists and UNITY: Journalists for Diversity, have also spoken out. Not that the local authorities in Ferguson are giving a shit about anything having to do with rights as of late.