Journalists covering America’s protests face violence from police, protesters

As anger grips the United States over the killing of George Floyd, several journalists have become the target of violence and arrests while covering the protests in the last several days.


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Images posted to social media show reporters being detained by police or targeted by non-lethal weapons. News crews have reported attacks from protesters themselves as well.

“Targeted attacks on journalists, media crews, and news organizations covering the demonstrations show a complete disregard for their critical role in documenting issues of public interest and are an unacceptable attempt to intimidate them,” Committee to Protect Journalists program director Carlos Martinez de la Serna said in a statement Saturday.

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CNN reporter arrested on live TV during George Floyd protest in Minneapolis

CNN reporter arrested on live TV during George Floyd protest in Minneapolis

“Authorities in cities across the U.S. need to instruct police not to target journalists and ensure they can report safely on the protests without fear of injury or retaliation.”

A flurry of protests have occurred across the U.S. since Floyd’s killing at the hands of a white police officer in Minneapolis, Minn., on Monday.

The protests seeking an end to structural racism and police brutality in the U.S. have largely been peaceful though there has been violence, property damage, looting and fires set in many areas.


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Curfews were imposed in cities including Atlanta, Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle. About 5,000 National Guard soldiers and airmen were activated in 15 states and Washington, D.C.

Police have come under fire for use of force in several instances captured on video, and two police officers in Atlanta were fired on Sunday.

Here’s a look at what U.S. reporters covering the protests have faced on the ground.

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A crowd of protesters attacked a photographer for WLKY, a local news station in Louisville, Kenn., on Saturday night.

WLKY chief photographer Paul Ahmann was knocked to the ground and images of him were taken as he laid on the ground, according to Poynter.

According to WLKY, reporter Deni Kamper, who was with him at the time, Ahmann was “being treated but is also OK.”

“A lot of people helped us tonight and I’m so grateful,” she wrote in a tweet Saturday.

Live footage was also aired showing a vehicle belonging to WLKY targeted by rioters on Friday night.

The video, which was posted by the station on Twitter, showed several protesters jumping on top the car trying to smash its front window.

“They are attacking our news vehicle right now, as you can see. They are jumping on top of our news vehicle right now, kicking out the windows…” according to the reporter who was on scene.

On Friday, WAVE 3 reporter Kaitlin Rust and photojournalist James Dobson had pepper bullets fired at them by a Louisville Metro Police Department (LMPD) officer.

Rust and Dobson were covering protests over the killing of Breonna Taylor, a Black woman who was fatally shot by police in her apartment.

“I’m getting shot, I’m getting shot … it’s those pepper bullets,” said Rust.

“At us, directly at us” continued Rust after being asked who the officer was shooting at.

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Reporter shot with pepper bullets on live TV during Louisville protest over death of Breonna Taylor

Reporter shot with pepper bullets on live TV during Louisville protest over death of Breonna Taylor

LMPD spokesperson Jessie Halladay told WAVE 3 that it wasn’t their intention to target media and that they were working to identify the officer.

“There was a lot going on last night, and to be fair to both the officer and to Kaitlin, we need to take a deeper look at what happened and what prompted that action,” said Halladay.

“So we have said that we will do that and if there needs to be discipline we will address it.”

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George Floyd death: U.S. congresswoman alleges she was pepper sprayed during Ohio protest

George Floyd death: U.S. congresswoman alleges she was pepper sprayed during Ohio protest

In Washington, a Fox News reporter was chased away after being attacked by protesters that gathered outside the White House on Saturday.

The reporter, Leland Vittert, said the attack was targeted at his news organization.

Several instances of police violence against journalists have also been documented in New York City.

Vice News reporter Michael Anthony Adams said he was held down and pepper sprayed despite video footage of him repeatedly saying he was press.

“I don’t care, put it down,” said an officer in response to him holding his press badge up.

The video, which Adams posted on Twitter, shows him lying face down and being pepper sprayed after saying, “I am press.”


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HuffPost journalist Christopher Mathias was arrested during his coverage of Brooklyn protests on Friday night. Images of him surfaced online being led away by NYPD officers in handcuffs.

In Minnesota — the heart of the George Floyd protests — footage of CNN reporter Ali Velshi and his crew being fired upon with tear gas was shown live on air Saturday night.

“Get back. Get back. You’re hit. You’re hit, he’s hit … watch it guys, we got gas here,” said Velshi as Minneapolis police officers fired what looks to be rounds of tear gas at them.

MSNBC reporters were also targeted by police in the city after having flash bangs thrown at or near them.

Minnesota State Police also arrested CNN reporter Omar Jimenez and members of his crew on Friday during a live report on the protests.

Jimenez was released an hour later, with police at the time stating that they were arrested for refusing to move.


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Los Angeles Times reporter Molly Hennessy-Fiske posted a video on Twitter detailing how Minnesota State Patrol fired tear-gas canisters at her and other media outlets at “point-blank range” while they were outside the city’s fifth precinct in Minneapolis.

Freelance photographer Linda Tirado suffered a severe injury to her left eye.

Tirado, who said she was shot with a rubber bullet while covering the protests in Minneapolis, said that she’s now permanently blind in that eye.

Footage of the protests in Atlanta also shows rioters smashing the glass of CNN’s downtown headquarters.

Images of CNN’s building show a police line barricading the rioters from entering the building. What is described to either be a firecracker or a flash bang is also thrown into the building, causing into a loud explosion.

Newspaper reporter Paul Woolverton said he was attacked by looters in Fayetteville, North Carolina, during his coverage of the city’s protests.

“Got a knot on my head, scrapes, bruises from head to foot and a concussion,” he wrote in a tweet, which included a photo of his injuries.

In Phoenix, Ariz., CBS 5 reporter Briana Whitney was attacked by a man while on air who grabbed her and yelled a profanity into her microphone.

Posting about her experience on Twitter, Whitney said “I feel violated, and this was terrifying.”

“THIS IS NOT OKAY,” wrote Whitney.

“Let us do our jobs. We are trying our very best.”

With files from The Associated Press


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