Al-Jazeera America screen shot

Some police officers in St. Louis County, Mo., have apparently taken longer than others to notice that the whole world is watching them.

Thursday, Al-Jazeera America producer Aaron Ernst was confronted by two police officers who threatened him while he was covering the Michael Brown shooting story in Kinloch, a neighboring town to Ferguson, Mo.

Ernst and two of his colleagues were told by the officers that they were not allowed to film their story even though they were in public and there was no curfew in effect. When he explained to the police that he and his team needed to shoot footage in that location, one of the officers told Ernst, “I’ll bust your ass. I’ll bust your head right here,” adding that he didn’t care if his threat ended up on film because he would confiscate it.

Here’s a snippet of his story from Al-Jazeera America:

The vast majority of the officers I met around St. Louis were doing the best they could in a difficult and dangerous situation. But the type of officer that we encountered – one who uses his authority to bully the public and press, simply because he is protected by the law and a gun – gives others a bad name. That kind of police impunity seems to be at the root of the anger and protests we witnessed.

In our case, the result was a minor inconvenience. But for many African-Americans living in neighborhoods heavily patrolled by police, the stakes of an encounter with officers who abuse their authority without fear of reprimand have proven to be much more deadly. Until such officers are held to account, the dynamics of the protests in Ferguson and across the country are unlikely to change anytime soon.

The antagonizing officer eventually dropped his act, as well as Ernst’s arm, and the journalists continued on their way. But the incident stuck with Ernst, who concluded in his write-up posted Tuesday: “That kind of police impunity seems to be at the root of the anger and protests we witnessed.”

— Posted by Donald Kaufman

Wait, before you go…

If you're reading this, you probably already know that non-profit, independent journalism is under threat worldwide. Independent news sites are overshadowed by larger heavily funded mainstream media that inundate us with hype and noise that barely scratch the surface.  We believe that our readers deserve to know the full story. Truthdig writers bravely dig beneath the headlines to give you thought-provoking, investigative reporting and analysis that tells you what’s really happening and who’s rolling up their sleeves to do something about it.

Like you, we believe a well-informed public that doesn’t have blind faith in the status quo can help change the world. Your contribution of as little as $5 monthly or $35 annually will make you a groundbreaking member and lays the foundation of our work.

Support Truthdig