Antonio French, an alderman in nearby St Louis, spent days posting to Twitter pictures and a series of videos of the demonstrations and police actions that he captured on his mobile phone – and was reportedly arrested and then released on Wednesday evening. He is a citizen journalist of the best kind: a credible witness who has helped inform the wider public about a critical matter. Can anyone plausibly doubt that he and the two professional journalists who were briefly taken into custody after police demanded they stop recording were targeted because they were documenting law enforcement actions?
Ferguson isn’t the first example of this kind of citizen journalism, which has been going on for years in any number of other places including Iran, Egypt, Occupy Wall Street and Syria. But the videos, blog posts, tweets, and photos from French and others on the ground have complemented the work of the traditional journalists on the scene – and have reminded us of what is becoming a civic duty in today’s America.