U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Independent journalist Aminah Ali arrested in St. Louis

Incident Details

Date of Incident
October 3, 2017
St. Louis, Missouri

Arrest/Criminal Charge

  • Trespassing
    • Oct. 4, 2017: Charges pending
    • Oct. 4, 2018: Charges dropped
Detention Date
Release Date
Unnecessary use of force?
Real STL News

Independent journalist Aminah Ali shows off her zip-tied hands in a screengrab from a video filmed inside a holding area in the St. Louis jail.

— Real STL News
October 4, 2018 - Update

Charge dropped against journalist arrested at St. Louis protest

The trespassing charge has been dropped against independent journalist Aminah Ali, who was arrested while covering a Black Lives Matter protest in St. Louis, Missouri, in October 2017, Ali confirmed by email to the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker in August 2023.

Ali, who founded local news site Real STL News, was caught up in a police “kettle” of protesters at the Oct. 3, 2017, demonstration and was held in zip ties at a St. Louis jail before being released on Oct. 4.

In a response to the Tracker's emailed query, a representative for the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department said that, to their knowledge, neither the city counselor nor the circuit attorney pursued charges.

The Tracker is listing the date of charges dropped as one year from Ali’s arrest date, when the statute of limitations expired.

October 3, 2017

Aminah Ali — a St. Louis-based independent journalist who founded local news site “Real STL News” — was arrested while reporting on a demonstration on Oct. 3, 2017.

That day, protesters in St. Louis shut down Highway 40, marching on the interstate and blocking traffic. The demonstration was a response to the acquittal in September of Jason Stockley, a white former St. Louis police officer who in 2011 fatally shot Anthony Lamar Smith, a Black man.

After the group of protesters exited the highway, lines of police officers enclosed them in a “kettle” and then ordered them to sit on the ground and began to arrest them. Ali, who was covering the march for Real STL News, was also arrested.

Real STL News later published a video that shows Ali, with her hands zip-tied behind her back, waiting in a holding area in the St. Louis jail.

“I am the founder of Real STL News and I've been apprehended,” Ali says in the video. “Once again, this is Aminah Ali, this is the founder of Real STL News, and I'm locked up. I wasn't doing anything illegal. I let them know that I was media, and I was still apprehended.”

According to Real STL News, Ali was released from jail on the morning of Oct. 4.

The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker catalogues press freedom violations in the United States. Email tips to [email protected].