Intercept Reporter Shot With Rubber Bullets and Arrested While Covering Ferguson Protests

Intercept reporter Ryan Devereaux was arrested this morning while on the ground covering the protests in Ferguson, Mo. According to St. Louis Post-Dispatch photographer David Carson, who witnessed the apprehension, Ryan and a German reporter he was with were both taken into custody by members of a police tactical team. They were handcuffed and placed in a wagon, and Carson was told they were being taken to St. Louis County jail.

We haven’t been able to reach officials with the St. Louis County Police Department or Ferguson Police Department to find out if Ryan has been charged, or under what pretext he was detained. But needless to say, it’s an outrage that he was stopped and handcuffed by police in the course of lawfully doing his job on the streets of Ferguson. We are trying to contact Ryan now.

At a press conference early this morning, Missouri Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson told reporters in Ferguson that 31 arrests had been made, including members of the “criminal element” from “as far away as New York.” When asked by a reporter if any of those 31 had been reporters, he immediately–and falsely–replied, “these people were not journalists that were arrested.”

But he quickly admitted that in the “chaos” of the protests, officers may not be able to distinguish between reporters and other bystanders: “So yes, we may take some of you into custody. But when we do take you into custody, and we have found out that you are a journalist, we have taken the proper action.” This begs the question as to why police would be compelled to arrest an otherwise law-abiding non-journalist simply for attending a protest. But we insist that the St. Louis County Police Department, Ferguson Police Department, and Missouri Highway Patrol take the proper action and release Ryan Devereaux immediately.

Update: Johnson and his colleagues did not take the “proper action.” Ryan spent the night in St. Louis County Jail, where he remains this morning. According to officials there, he is due to be released without charge—the initial pretext for his detention was “failure to disperse”—within the hour. Ryan and Lukas Hermsmeier, a reporter for the German newspaper De Bild, were both apprehended last night—and shot with beanbags and rubber bullets—while attempting to return to their car after a night of reporting. When they were shot at, they had their hands raised in the air and were shouting, “Press! Press! Press!”

Second Update: Ryan has been released. And a correction: While the situation is still not entirely clear, I believe now that both Ryan and Hermsmeier were hit with beanbags, but not rubber bullets as reported above. Also, I’ve updated the post and the headline to reflect the fact that Ryan was in fact arrested and jailed overnight, not merely detained.

Third Update: Ryan’s post recounting his first night in Ferguson is here. As you can see, he now believes he was hit with a rubber bullet, and not a beanbag. I’ve updated the headline of this post to reflect that.

Email the author: john.cook@theintercept.com