September 28, 2020

Press Freedom

United States

OPC Condemns Attacks on Journalists Covering Protests

Police push back protesters during a demonstration on June 1 in Washington, DC. Photo: Joshua Roberts/Getty Images.

Updated June 18, 2020

The Overseas Press Club condemns the harassment and targeted attacks on journalists covering the protests across the United States.

The OPC and its Press Freedom Committee calls on U.S. law enforcement agencies as well as protesters to stop the use of violence and intimidation against the news media and accept the essential role that journalists play in a democracy.

More than 430 cases of press freedom violations, including 59 arrests, are being investigated by representatives of the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker, a comprehensive database that records press freedom incidents across the country.

By comparison, there are normally 100-150 incidents investigated in an average year, according to the Tracker.

The incidents logged have all occurred since May 28 as demonstrations intensified against the death of George Floyd, 46, a black man who died in police custody in Minneapolis.

Reporters attempting to do their jobs have been aggressively targeted by police with pepper spray, rubber bullets, tear gas, physical attacks and arrests. In some cases, reporters have shown their media credentials before being assaulted or pepper sprayed.

Protesters have also attacked reporters physically and vandalized media property.

These reported attacks have occurred at protests in 33 U.S. states. Cities include Minneapolis, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., New York, Louisville, Las Vegas, Des Moines, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Atlanta and Columbus, among others.

Media coverage of demonstrations informs the public about what happens at protests, the grievances expressed and the response by authorities, providing an informed context for public conversation.