The first ten Amendments to the Constitution, were introduced to the first U.S. Congress , in 1789, by James Madison, before he became our Fourth President. Those Amendments, which are collectively known as the “Bill of Rights”, were ratified in 1791. The very first of those Amendments guarantees the Freedoms of: Religion; Speech, Press and Assembly.
During the turmoil that resulted after the shooting of an unarmed Black Man by a Police Officer in Ferguson a week ago, the rights to a Free Press and the Assembly were infringed upon. Ferguson Police Officers, on Wednesday night: arrested two credentialed reporters, who were sitting in a McDonald’s; told media cameramen to stop filming the nights’ activities; fired tear gas at peaceful bystanders and tried to enforce a non-existent curfew. A more comprehensive discussion can be found in this Blog’s prior three Posts, and the linked article from the Miami Herald, http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/08/16/v-print/4291771/leonard-pitts-jr.html.
These Freedoms are cherished by Americans and have withstood a considerable amount of case law, when challenged in Court, except in situations where public safety would be jeopardized. Leonard Pitts sums-up the whole importance of Freedom of the Press in the last sentence of the linked column: “If this (is) how some cops behave when the whole world is watching, can you imagine what they are like when the whole world is not.” Social media and mobile cameras truly are game-changers!