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SAG-AFTRA issues statement on journalists' rights in Ferguson

SAG-AFTRA: 'Journalists have an obligation to report what is happening in their community, and the world'

SAG-AFTRA, which represents more than 165,000 actors, journalists and other media professionals, issued a statement on Tuesday calling on law enforcement officials in Ferguson, Mo., to "permit journalists the freedom to do their jobs."

"SAG-AFTRA joins the rest of the journalism community in condemning the arrest and detention of reporters covering the events happening in Ferguson," the union said in a statement. "As a union that represents broadcast journalists, including many local St. Louis broadcasters, we strongly support the rights of journalists not to be impeded in their efforts to report the news."

The statement comes after several journalists voiced incidents of being arrested, detained or threatened while covering ongoing protests in Ferguson after the Aug. 9 shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown by a police officer.

"Just cuffed and searched as we said we were leaving as he asked," Financial Times reporter Neil Munshi tweeted on Sunday, attaching a link to a Vine video of the incident.

Robert Klemko, of Sports Illustrated, posted a photo on Twitter of the plastic "handcuffs" used by police to detain him.

"When they cut cuffs off minutes later, I held onto it," Klemko said in the tweet. 

On Monday, Getty Images photographer Scott Olson was also arrested for reportedly not being in the media area.

Last week, after Washington Post's Wesley Lowery and Huffington Post's Ryan J. Reilly were taken into custody by Missouri police, President Obama addressed journalists' rights in a speech.

"Here in the United States of America, police should not be bullying or arresting journalists who are just trying to do their jobs," he said in a news conference.  

SAG-AFTRA echoed similar comments.

"Journalists have an obligation to report what is happening in their community, and the world," the union said in its statement.

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