The AP (here, carried by the San Francisco Chronicle) reports that recorded conversations reveal flight restrictions requested in August by the police force of Ferguson, MO, and agreed to by Federal aviation safety officials, were specifically intended to limit the access of journalists to the area, rather than purely in response to safety concerns. One FAA manager in Kansas City was recorded saying police "did not care if you ran commercial traffic through this TFR (temporary flight restriction) all day long. They didn't want media in there." "There is really ... no option for a [Temporary Flight Restriction] that says, you know, 'OK, everybody but the media is OK,'" he said. The managers then worked out wording they felt would keep news helicopters out of the controlled zone but not impede other air traffic. The conversations contradict claims by the St. Louis County Police Department, which responded to demonstrations following the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown, that the restriction was solely for safety and had nothing to do with preventing media from witnessing the violence or the police response. Police said at the time, and again as recently as late Friday to the AP, that they requested the flight restriction in response to shots fired at a police helicopter. But police officials confirmed there was no damage to their helicopter and were unable to provide an incident report on the shooting. On the tapes, an FAA manager described the helicopter shooting as unconfirmed "rumors."
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