Claim completely contradicted by video footage, statements
St. Charles County SWAT Team members have bizarrely claimed that they were “helping” Al Jazeera journalists who were tear gassed during unrest in Ferguson, Missouri on Wednesday night.
Video footage of the incident shows reporters fleeing the scene after police throw a tear gas canister just feet from where they are standing. Cops then begin to dismantle lighting rigs before pointing a video camera down to the ground.
However, according to a Fox 2 report, the SWAT team members “helped” the journalists by tear gassing them.
On Wednesday, an Al-Jazeera crew got caught in the tear gas. St. Charles County SWAT Team members located the journalists, put them into their armored car and then disassembled their equipment and loaded it for them.
A spokesperson for the St. Charles County Sheriff’s department says the reporters “thanked their officers.”
“In fact, last night the SWAT Team officers were assisting the media in moving their camera equipment and media personnel to a safer area with their consent so that they could continue to cover the event, ” the Sheriff’s Department said in a news release.
The narrative put out by the SWAT team is completely contradicted by the journalists involved in the incident, who didn’t appear to be very thankful.
Footage taken by Infowars.com shows the Al-Jazeera journalists angrily complaining about the fact that they are being shot at by the police.
“This is media over here, we’re trying to cover a story, we’re getting shot at with rubber bullets right now,” screams one of the Al-Jazeera journalists in the clip. “Jesus Christ,” she exclaims as police start shooting more rubber bullets.
Infowars.com’s Jakari Jackson and Joe Biggs were also fired at with rubber bullets and tear gas rounds, confirming that police were deliberately targeting media.
“We were very close to where those [tear gas] canisters were shot from. We yelled, as you heard there [on the video]. We were yelling that we were press. But they continued to fire. We retreated about half a block into the neighborhood, until we could get out of that situation,” Al Jazeera’s Ash-har Quaraishi told Business Insider.
His comments were echoed by field producer Marla Cichowski, who stated, “We were clearly set up as press with a full live shot set up. As soon as first bullet hit the car we screamed out loud, “We are press,’ ‘This is media….They shined a huge flood light at us before firing and I can only imagine they could see what they were shooting at.”
Both Jackson and Joe Biggs were also fired at with rubber bullets and tear gas rounds, confirming that police were deliberately targeting media. In a separate incident, police also ordered journalists to turn off their cameras shortly before a subsequent tear gas assault.
The SWAT team’s claims were also directly contradicted by a statement put out by Al Jazeera Kate O’Brian, who called the incident an “egregious assault on freedom of the press.”