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Matt Wilcox

Musing

Aug 14th 2014

Ferguson

Have you heard what's happening in the USA town of Furguson? If you have, you're likely on Twitter.

Where is the media coverage of this huge event?

I'll stick to the generally accepted facts: A town in the USA has, for two days now, been subject to a no-fly zone at altitudes that cover news helicopters. The local black population have been under attack by a militarised police. Those police have tanks, bullet proof vests, assault rifles, armoured cars, and are out en-mass. They have sniper rifle wielding officers, looking down their sights, in daylight, sitting on top of those armoured cars. They are firing tear-gas, they are arresting news reporters, they are demanding an end to video surveillance with threat of arrest for non-compliance (video surveillance of police is protected under US law). 'Rubber' bullets have been fired. Much of this at unarmed black citizens. Armed police have shouted at people to get back in their homes; when they are in their homes.

Have you heard about it? Maybe if you're on Twitter.

Because it's not on our news outlets. Not a peep on the BBC today. Media black out, pretty much as the police have wanted.

What started it? Well, according to the police a single black man got in an altercation with a white officer, the white officer shooting dead the black man in the process. If you accept that version of events you would expect that the eye-witness would have been interviewed by the police. They were not. Oh, they've had time to be interviewed by a reporter, but the police haven't bothered. Of course, the eye witness reports are that the black man was gunned down by an officer firing at his back while his hands were up.

Have you heard about it? Maybe if you're on Twitter.

Forgetting the obvious, and not so obvious issues this brings up, I want to address one specific problem which is perhaps more important than it first appears:

That police department are largely succeeding in silencing the media. You've heard not a peep on our media outlets. A town under military siege, no fly zones, inside America itself. Nothing reported. In an age where the mere hint of a 'terrorist threat' gets slapped all over the news whether anything happens or not.

It is telling that the best source for information on current events is citizen reporting on social media.

It's also terrifying that our governments have plans and procedures for silencing and filtering that social media, both at the service level, and at the source. They're also wanting 'kill switches' in the very mobile devices we use to talk on social media, so the devices can be remotely killed as and when they deem it suitable.

My thoughts today are with the people of Furguson, I'm hoping for a swift end to the situation by a police pull-out. I doubt it will happen, but I hope it does; the USA has seen this sort of situation before, in the Tulsa Race Riots, in the battle of Blair Mountain, and no doubt others. There's a history of it.

All I can do to help is write a post like this one, and question my media, my government – why is this not being reported?