George Floyd death: Crowd rushes toward Global News reporter live on air in Washington
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.
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 Martínez de la Serna said in a statement Saturday.
“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.
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.
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.
Just found out our chief photographer was attacked so badly he had to go to the ER. Deni was with him and also attacked. Their WLKY station car was completely destroyed #LouisvilleProtests https://t.co/DsP4Fnuc4g
— Julie Dolan (@WLKYJulie) May 30, 2020
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.
All – I’m ok. Paul, the photographer who’s been with me all night, is being treated but is also ok. A lot of people helped us tonight and I’m so grateful.
— Deni Kamper (@WLKYDeni) May 30, 2020
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.
— WLKY (@WLKY) May 30, 2020
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.
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.”
In Washington, a Fox News reporter was chased away after being attacked by protesters that gathered outside the White House on Saturday.
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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.
Police just raided the gas station we were sheltering at. After shouting press multiple times and raising my press card in the air, I was thrown to the ground. Then another cop came up and peppered sprayed me in the face while I was being held down. pic.twitter.com/23EkZIMAFC
— Michael Anthony Adams (@MichaelAdams317) May 31, 2020
“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.”
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.
HuffPost report Christopher Mathias — who regularly covers protests, was covering Brooklyn protests last night, has been tweeting from the protests all day — has just been arrested by NYPD in Brooklyn. I've asked DCPI for more information. https://t.co/ASSDrZrk8L
— Amber Jamieson (@ambiej) May 31, 2020
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.
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) May 31, 2020
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.
Minnesota State Police arresting CNN's @OmarJimenez and crew live on TV on @NewDay for reporting on the protests. Police say they were arrested because they were told to move and didn't. Omar was completely respectful and cooperative, ans asked the police where to do the report. pic.twitter.com/HPVtvQ59Xo
— Sam Fernando (@Sujayanth) May 29, 2020
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.
Minnesota State Patrol just fired tear gas at reporters and photographers at point blank range. pic.twitter.com/r7X6J7LKo8
— Molly Hennessy-Fiske (@mollyhf) May 31, 2020
Freelance photographer Linda Tirado suffered a severe injury to her left eye.
Hey folks, took a tracer found to the face (I think, given my backpack) and am headed into surgery to see if we can save my left eye
Am wisely not gonna be on Twitter while I’m on morphine
Stay safe folks pic.twitter.com/apZOyGrcBO
— Linda Tirado (@KillerMartinis) May 30, 2020
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.
an update: I am permanently blind in my left eye, and the docs absolutely refuse to let me go back to work for they say six weeks. I’m definitely not allowed to be near smoke or gas.
Usually if I had to stay home I’d spend a lot of time amplifying folk but reading hurts today
— Linda Tirado (@KillerMartinis) May 30, 2020
Footage of the protests in Atlanta also shows rioters smashing the glass of CNN’s downtown headquarters.
It’s not just Minneapolis, we are now seeing protests in cities across the country over the death of George Floyd. This is in Atlanta as some smash the glass at our downtown CNN headquarters. #GeorgeFloyd pic.twitter.com/iwJxFaUfxW
— Omar Jimenez (@OmarJimenez) May 30, 2020
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.
— CNN (@CNN) May 30, 2020
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.
Got a knot on my head, scrapes, bruises from head to foot and a concussion.
The looters at Cross Creek Mall didn’t like that I was shooting video (see their activities on the @fayobserver Facebook page).
— Paul Woolverton (@FO_Woolverton) May 31, 2020
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.
THIS IS NOT OKAY.
This is the moment I was intentionally tackled by this man while I was on air trying to report what was happening during the protest at Phoenix PD headquarters. I feel violated, and this was terrifying.
— Briana Whitney (@BrianaWhitney) May 30, 2020
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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