The U.S. government allowed police in Ferguson, Missouri, to restrict more than 37 square miles of airspace for nearly two weeks in August for safety reasons. But audio recordings show instead that local authorities wanted to keep news helicopters away during violent street protests.
Amid demonstrations following the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown, Federal Aviation Administration managers struggled to redefine an earlier flight ban so police helicopters and commercial flights at nearby Lambert-St. Louis International Airport could fly through the area - but not others.
FAA officials say a main reason was to keep the media out. The conversations contradict claims by the St. Louis County police, who said the restrictions had nothing to do with limiting the press.