Leaked audio recordings have revealed that the US government allowed police to establish a no-fly zone over Ferguson, Missouri, following the August killing of an unarmed African-American teenager by police.
The recordings show the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) restricted the airspace above the city to stop media helicopters from recording news footage during the protests in August.
“They finally admitted it really was to keep the media out,” said one FAA manager about the St. Louis County Police in a series of recorded telephone conversations obtained by The Associated Press. “But they were a little concerned of, obviously, anything else that could be going on.
The latest revelation has raised serious concerns about the violation of journalists’ constitutional rights in the United States.
The recordings contradict claims by the St. Louis County police department, which was criticized for its forceful response to demonstrations.
Authorities said they requested a no-fly-zone in response to shots fired at a police helicopter.
A wave of high profile fatal police shootings has heated the debate on police brutality in the US. In Ferguson, 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot to death by Darren Wilson in August.
Brown was shot at least six times, including twice in the head by the white officer. Though police have a different account about the deadly shooting incident, several eyewitnesses say the unarmed teen held up his arms in surrender before he was repeatedly shot.
The incident ignited tensions in Ferguson, a predominantly African-American city f about 20,000 people.
US police shoot and kill an average of 1,000 people a year, one in every four of whom are unarmed, according to a report by the Police Policy Studies Council.