Police stand watch as demonstrators protest the shooting death of teenager Michael Brown on August 13, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri.
Scott Olson—Getty Images
By Nolan Feeney
November 4, 2014

St. Louis County police denied Monday that a no-fly zone established over the suburb of Ferguson during protests earlier this year was set up to keep news helicopters away.

“It’s always all about safety,” St. Louis County Chief of Police Jon Belmar at a press conference, Reuters reports. “That’s the bottom line on this.”

On Sunday the Associated Press reported that audio recordings it had obtained through Freedom of Information Act Requests revealed local authorities openly acknowledging that the no-fly zone was about keeping media outlets out.

Belmar said the 12-day, 37-square-mile no-fly zone was established after pilots claimed they saw muzzle flashes and lasers aimed at them.

The AP reports that air traffic workers had difficulty defining the ban in a way that would allow commercial flights and police helicopters through but keep news helicopters out.

[Reuters]

Write to Nolan Feeney at nolan.feeney@time.com.

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