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

Police Shooting MissouriThe 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

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Other journalism organizations that have spoken out:

American Society of News Editors

National Association of Black Journalists

Society of Professional Journalists

UNITY: Journalists for Diversity

AAJA is a nonprofit professional and educational organization with more than 1,700 members across the United States and in Asia. Founded in 1981, AAJA has been at the forefront of change in the journalism industry. AAJA’s mission is to encourage Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) to enter the ranks of journalism, to work for fair and accurate coverage of AAPIs, and to increase the number of AAPI journalists and news managers in the industry.