WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Reporter Arrested for Covering Public Meeting

Jul 12, 2016

St Louis television station Fox 2 did an investigation into the police department for the suburb of Kinloch. The station found some police cars had not been registered with the state and the community had not insured the vehicles. 

The city council held a special meeting to talk about the issues raised by the story. But when a reporter from the station tried to enter the public meeting with a camera, he was stopped by police and eventually arrested.

The Shop Talk panelists say police violated the law and the arrest should be tossed out.

Jonathan Ahl believes the city was embarrassed by the report and didn’t want journalists recording city council members while they tried to resolve the issues.  He praised a citizen who was interviewed after the meeting.  The man said journalists should be allowed to record meetings so they can report back to the community about what’s happening.

Rich Egger commended reporter Chris Hayes for calmly explaining his rights to the arresting officer even as he was placed in handcuffs.  Egger said Hayes did not showboat or resist, which could have made the situation worse.

Egger also said someone from the Missouri Attorney General’s office should hold a workshop for Kinloch city government employees, including police and city council members, to teach them about Open Meetings and Sunshine laws.

Jasmine Crighton believes city representatives knew the law but chose to ignore it. She said journalists had every right to go into the meeting and record it.  

Crighton also said this case demonstrates the challenges reporters sometimes face when they’re trying to tell a story. And she said if a local government impedes journalists from doing their job, it’s likely that government will also impede members of the public who have questions.