In Ferguson, Missouri, where violent clashes between police and protesters angry about the police shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown were expected to continue, the Federal Aviation Administration declared a no-fly zone Tuesday afternoon, banning all pilots without special permission from flying over the city.
The no-fly zone was first publicized via a Twitter post by California freelance reporter and University of California, Riverside, assistant professor Ashon Crawley.
yall. #Ferguson is listed as restricted airspace. it has literally been zoned for warfare.
— #EatBaéLove (@ashoncrawley) August 12, 2014
Crawley pointed out an online posting on the FAA site stating that the no-fly zone restrictions took effect over Ferguson, a suburb of St. Louis, at 8:15 am Central Time (1:15 pm UTC) on Tuesday — and will remain in effect until next Monday, August 18, at 10 am.
The reason given on the FAA site for imposing the no-fly zone is “TO PROVIDE A SAFE ENVIRONMENT FOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ACTIVITIES.”
The no-fly zone applies mainly to helicopters, as the zone extends only to 3,000 feet above sea level, though a dispatcher for the St. Louis County Sheriff’s Department said that the police requested a no-fly zone that extended up to 5,000 feet.
“It’s just for a no fly zone because we have multiple helicopters maneuvering in the area and we were having some problems with news aircrafts flying around there,” the dispatcher, “Chris,” told the Think Progress site, which called to inquire about the flight restrictions.
Think Progress found that when no-fly zones are imposed over the United States there are usually one of three reasons given: firefighting, security for a “VIP,” such as the president, or air shows.
The no-fly zone ban has the effects of barring media helicopters from broadcasting images of any civil unrest occurring on the ground.
There have been numerous reports of restrictions imposed by police on media coverage of the Ferguson unrest, which began Sunday after residents gathered to protest the shooting of Michael Brown the day before.
What led to Brown’s death is still unclear. Police say that Brown got into an altercation with a police officer, who has not yet been named, and attempted to grab the officer’s gun.
But Dorian Johnson, who was walking with Brown when the incident occurred, said it began when the police officer shouted at the pair to “get the f*** off the sidewalk!”
The officer became angered when he tried to open the door of his vehicle but it hit the two youths instead. The officer then grabbed Brown by the neck, pulled him toward the police car and threatened to shoot him.
When the officer drew his gun, he fired and shot Brown, who took off running with Johnson, according to the witness’s account. The officer then gave chase.
“He pursued my friend. His weapon was drawn,” Johnson told a local TV station. “He shot again, and once my friend felt that shot, he turned around, he put his hands in the air, and he started to get down, but the officer still approached with his weapon drawn, and he fired several more shots, and my friend died.”
The F.B.I. is now investigating the Ferguson shooting.