WWNO reporter arrested while covering police protests

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A reporter for WWNO in New Orleans was released from police custody Sunday after his arrest in Baton Rouge, La., while covering a protest over police violence.

Ryan Kailath was arrested Saturday on one count of obstruction of highway, according to WWNO News Director Eve Troeh. A crowd had gathered to protest last week’s incidents in which police officers shot and killed black men, including Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge.

Kailath said protesters were disorganized until armed members of the New Black Panther Party arrived and mobilized the group. The crowd marched from a gas station to the corner of police headquarters, where police emerged in full riot gear, Kailath said Monday on Morning Edition.

While this face off was happening in the road in front of probably a couple hundred of us standing on the grass on the side of the road, unbeknownst to us cops were lining up behind us. Once the riot police pushed into the group of Black Panthers and wrestling some of them to the ground and taking their guns, and whatnot, a bunch of us instinctively stepped back and started to back away from the situation. … When we turned around to walk away from the situation, the cops who had lined up behind us kept us from retreating, and actually pushed us back toward the action and back toward the violence.

Other journalists arrested included a Breitbart News reporter and an assistant news director for Baton Rouge CBS affiliate WAFB.

After his release, Kailath shared a video that he said captured the moments before his arrest.

Kailath said his videos show that he was not in the road. He can be heard telling officers he’s a journalist and said he repeated his occupation while being booked. “So it seemed once you were in the system, you were in the system,” Kailath said. “And being a journalist didn’t matter whatsoever.”

  • Aaron Read

    Seems like this has been something of a trend as of late: reporters being arrested right along with the protesters.

    Has there been any research/analysis about how clearly the journalists being arrested identified themselves as such? I mean, more than just shouting “I’m a journalist” which, I’d imagine, isn’t worth spit. Any cop is going to assume that anyone could shout that, and thus isn’t going to listen. But if a person is wearing a windbreaker, vest or even a polo shirt in a station’s colors with the station’s logo…perhaps that might give police a bit more pause?

    Or a press pass? Do police departments even issue those anymore, much less honor them?