American U. Journalist Arrested in Ferguson Settles Civil Rights Lawsuit, Has Charges Dropped

Last month, I wrote about reporting wunderkind Trey Yingst, an independent journalist based in Washington D.C. and the founder of the news service Yingst, 21, balances a full courseload at American University with basically nonstop reporting on U.S. and international riots, protests, armed conflicts, political events and areas of unrest.

One of those areas has been Ferguson, Missouri, where Yingst traveled twice in the past year — first after Michael Brown’s death and then again in November in the wake of the grand jury decision involving police officer Darren Wilson. During that latter visit, law enforcement arrested Yingst and charged him with unlawful assembly, failure to obey a lawful order and interfering with the duties of a police officer.

What went down that night? Huffington Post senior media reporter Michael Calderone: “In the police department’s account, Yingst was standing in the street with protesters and impeding the flow of traffic when ordered to move to the sidewalk. It was then that [the arresting officer] ordered Yingst — three times, by his account — to return to the sidewalk. But Yingst refused to do so, according to the report, and only ‘slowly walked backwards onto the sidewalk’ as the police formation approached. ‘The whole police report was basically made up,’ Yingst said.”

In return, Yingst filed a civil rights lawsuit against St. Louis County and the arresting officer. Earlier this week, he was granted an $8,500 settlement to the suit and a related dropping of all charges filed against him at the time of his arrest.

Yingst: “Journalists should never have to work under fear of arrest for simply doing their job. I hope that my arrest can serve as an opportunity for police departments across the country to reflect on the treatment of media. Exercising First Amendment rights remains a crucial part of American society, holding members of law enforcement and the general public accountable for their actions.”

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