Just before the arrest of journalist Trey Yingst, a few demonstrators blocked the street as they waited to hear whether or not the grand jury will indict police officer Darren Wilson who shot and killed 18-year-old Mike Brown last August 9, says the Huffington Post.
Police first ordered everyone out of the street and then ordered those standing on a sidewalk to cross the street and remain on the opposite sidewalk.
Yingst was standing on the first sidewalk with his media credentials in plain sight and a camera around his neck when Vollmer ordered his arrest. In a tweet, the St. Louis County Police Department stated that he was “standing in the road” and was arrested for “failure to disperse.”
But Yingst was not in the street, as many witnesses testified.
Yingst tweeted early Sunday that he had been released from the St. Louis County Jail "after being arrested for exercising my first amendment rights on a public sidewalk.”
The Police Department issued a second statement saying that the reporter was not in the street, but in the area, and that he would be charged with unlawful assembly.
On Friday the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) had secured federal orders affirming citizens' rights to record police. The ACLU is looking into Yingst’s arrest.
A federal judge ordered several area law enforcement agencies to stop "interfering with individuals who are photographing or recording at public places but who are not threatening the safety of others or physically interfering with the ability of law enforcement to perform their duties.”
“We are deeply troubled that the First Amendment rights of the media are still being violated in spite of the recent court order we secured against such action by the County of St. Louis,” said Jeffrey Mittman, executive director of the ACLU's Missouri chapter. “We will continue to monitor the situation and if necessary swiftly pursue aggressive action to ensure that unlawful interference with the press comes to an end.”
The aggressive arrest by Vollmer came after a police officer with a different approach, Lt. Jerry Lohr, had registered some success in engaging in conversations with protesters and deescalating tense situations, notes the Huff Post.