The Slatest

St. Louis Police Deny Media Was Target of Ferguson No-Fly Zone

A television crew scrambles for cover as police fire tear gas into their reporting position in Ferguson, Missouri.  

Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

On Monday, St. Louis County police denied a report published over the weekend by the Associated Press that the no-fly zone imposed over Ferguson, Missouri was designed to limit media access to the area in the aftermath of the police shooting of Michael Brown. “It’s always all about safety. That’s the bottom line on this,” St. Louis County Chief of Police Jon Belmar said at a news conference. “[A]t no time did we request that only media be kept out of the airspace.” Belmar went on to reiterate the police department’s contention that, Reuters reports, “the [no-fly zone] decision was made after pilots reported seeing muzzle flashes and potentially hazardous lasers pointed at them.”

The St. Louis County police chief’s comments directly counter the AP’s reporting, which includes audio recordings of local officials explicitly attempting to limit media access to the area. On the tapes, for example, the AP describes how “an FAA manager is heard assuring a St. Louis County Police Department official that the updated restrictions would allow planes to land at nearby Lambert-St. Louis International Airport but, ‘It will still keep news people out. … The only way people will get in there is if they give them permission in there anyway so … it still keeps all of them out.’”