More than 140 journalists have been arrested or attacked by law enforcement during US protests
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Law enforcement have carried out numerous attacks on the press covering the demonstrations that have swept the United States after the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on May 25, including firing tear gas and rubber bullets at journalists and destroying their cameras.
Between May 30 and June 7, journalist Nick Waters recorded at least 144 cases when journalists covering the protests were arrested or attacked by law enforcement. Many of the incidents occurred in Minneapolis, where the protests began, but others also occurred in other states.
The third clear example of a news crew being deliberately targeted by law enforcement in the US I’ve seen.Nick Waters (@N_Waters89) May 30, 2020
Anybody else seen similar incidents? https://t.co/pzOWjQZru6
Minnesota State Patrol just fired tear gas at reporters and photographers at point blank range. pic.twitter.com/r7X6J7LKo8Molly Hennessy-Fiske (@mollyhf) May 31, 2020
In this video, which was posted on May 31 and has since garnered more than two million views, Los Angeles Times journalist Molly Hennefessy-Fiske explains how she and her colleagues were attacked by the Minnesota State Patrol: “We identified ourselves as press and they fired tear gas canisters at us at point blank range. I got hit in the leg.”
According to British daily newspaper The Guardian which analysed the attacks alongside Bellingcat, in 72 percent of these cases, the journalists were attacked when their credentials were visible or after they had identified themselves as members of the press.
Some videos showed police deliberately targeting the press. On June 2, American TV channel ABC broadcast a video showing a police officer using his shield to hit a journalist and his camera at a protest in front of the White House in Washington, DC. The journalist was quickly identified as Tim Meyers, who works for the Australian TV channel 7newsAustralia. His colleague was also shoved by police.
The moment our @7NewsAustralia team is attacked by police. Cameraman Tim Myers has covered war zones around the world. Today this is what confronted him and @AmeliaBrace outside the White House pic.twitter.com/KPY0NZIwsmAshlee Mullany (@AshleeMullany) June 1, 2020
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morisson called on the Australian Embassy in Washington to investigate the incident.
"We'll have a few bruises tomorrow"Sunrise (@sunriseon7) June 1, 2020
7NEWS US Correspondent @AmeliaBrace confirms her and cameraman Tim Myers are OK after police violently moved them on in Washington D.C.
More on this story: https://t.co/oriGjoIz6B pic.twitter.com/gFrHcqhoZH
On June 4, the website US Press Freedom Tracker, which tracks press freedom violations, reported that they had recorded more than 300 incidents since the start of protests, including more than 54 arrests, 208 assaults and 73 physical attacks, 47 of which were made by police.
LATEST DATA, MAY 26 - JUNE 6 12pm ETU.S. Press Freedom Tracker (@uspresstracker) June 6, 2020
*328+ total press freedom incidents*
208 assaults (173 by police)
45 equipment/newsroom damage
Assault category breakdown:
73 physical attacks (47 by police)
49 tear gassings
25 pepper sprayings
83 rubber bullets/projectiles
French journalist Matthieu Derrien, who works for TF1, posted photos on Twitter on May 31 showing the window of his car smashed by a rubber bullet fired by Minneapolis police. He and his colleague Amandine Atalaya were both briefly arrested.
A Minneapolis hier soir, à proximité d’un barrage, la police a tiré une balle en caoutchouc sur notre véhicule en marche côté conducteur, puis nous a arrêtés avec @AmandineAtalaya . Relâchés rapidement heureusement, plus de peur que de mal pic.twitter.com/hEZtkxyDDFMathieu Derrien (@MatDerrien) May 31, 2020
“Every time a journalist is hit with a baton, hit with tear gas, sprayed with pepper spray, detained, arrested, beaten up, other journalists become more scared to do their job”
Waters told the FRANCE 24 Observers team why he started recording these incidents.
So when I saw the CNN crew being arrested live on television [on May 29] it was quite shocking for me. I decided it was important to record that this was happening. At first I thought I would just find a few examples of police violence towards journalists, but it became clear that this was widespread across the United States.
The president of the United States has created a culture in which journalists and the media are viewed as, in his words, “the enemy of the people”. So therefore it becomes more acceptable for law enforcement to attack them and to use them as a target.
I don’t think the police have orders to attack journalists, but for me, it was clear that in certain cases, the police clearly knew at the beginning of the demonstration that they would attack journalists.
Since he took office in 2017, President Donald Trump has frequently criticised journalists in his speeches and on his Twitter account.
The Lamestream Media is doing everything within their power to foment hatred and anarchy. As long as everybody understands what they are doing, that they are FAKE NEWS and truly bad people with a sick agenda, we can easily work through them to GREATNESS!Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 31, 2020
Waters says that it is extremely important for journalists as well as citizens to continue to document these incidents.
Every time a journalist is hit with a baton, hit with tear gas, sprayed with pepper spray, detained, arrested, beaten up, that means other journalists become more scared to do their jobs. The risks become higher. So therefore they are less likely to take risks, less able to cover as much of what is happening as they need to. That means the public is less informed about what is happening around them.
The action by law enforcement in the United States directly affects the kind of information that the public receives from the press. So this is incredibly important and appears to directly attack press freedom in the United States.
When you hear journalists talk about getting fired on by police, this is one of the things we’re getting hit with. It felt like I got hit with a baseball bat... pic.twitter.com/Xp4ZSYalvELionel Donovan, III (@LionelDonovan3) June 1, 2020
In this tweet posted on June 1, journalist Lionel Donovan III shows the injury he sustained from a non-lethal grenade thrown by police.
Article by par Marie Genries