According to multiple reports, Edward Baxter was working on a story inside a local McDonald’s when police approached and asked him to hand over his laptop.
When the longtime CNN Headline News reporter refused, officers took him into the bathroom and beheaded him with a hunting knife.
Video of the incident was later posted on YouTube, along with a warning to other journalists not to interfere with police activities in the area.
“Let this serve as a message to MSNBC, Fox News, the New York Times, the Huffington Post and other national news outlets,” exclaims an officer in the video, with Baxter’s severed head in one hand.
“Ever since this crisis started the media has unfairly portrayed us as violent monsters. And freedom of the press? That’s fine. If you want to sit in your studio in New York or Washington D.C. and slander our reputations, go ahead.
“But when you come into our town, you play by our rules. We are the Ferguson police. And we are the law.”
Love Is All Around
The brutal beheading is only the latest in a series of attacks on journalists by police forces in Ferguson, Missouri against journalists in town to cover the death of teenager Mike Brown.
On Aug. 9 Brown was shot six times by a Ferguson police officer in what many see as an excessive use of force against the unarmed black teenager. Protests by the city’s outraged population have paralyzed the town in the days since.
The crisis has brought national media attention to this hitherto obscure suburb of St. Louis. But the throngs of journalists have not been well received. Many have been wrongfully arrested or assaulted by local police.
Today’s stunning events come just one day after the radical Islamic group IS beheaded an American journalist in Iraq.
Although a few fringe groups have raised concerns about the extrajudicial beheadings of journalists in the United States by law enforcement, in a statement today Ferguson’s police chief defended the practice.
“This is standard procedure here in Ferguson when a member of the media disobeys our orders,” he explained. “If this clown knew what was good for him, he would have simply handed over his laptop. His blood is on his own hands.”
Baxter is survived by his wife, Georgette, and their seven children. His dismembered body will be flown back to his native Minnesota for burial tomorrow.