U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Broadcast photojournalist attacked while covering Madison protest aftermath

Incident Details

Date of Incident
June 2, 2020
Madison, Wisconsin


Was the journalist targeted?
May 21, 2021 - Update

Man sentenced for attack on photojournalist at Wisconsin protest

The man who assaulted a photojournalist and TV reporter on air while they were reporting on the aftermath of Black Lives Matter protests in Madison, Wisconsin, received a partially suspended sentence for the attacks on May 21, 2021, according to court documents reviewed by the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker.

WMTV photojournalist Curt Lenz was filming at a 7-Eleven store that had been looted during the June 2020 protests when Michael E. Campbell, who police said was going through the looted goods, told Lenz that he did not want to be recorded. Lenz then began a live shot with WMTV reporter Amelia Jones a short distance away but was interrupted when Campbell charged toward them, throwing bottles, grabbing Lenz, and shaking him and his camera.

Campbell pleaded guilty to battery and disorderly conduct. He was given a suspended jail sentence of nine months, 18 months probation and a $486 fine, and ordered to complete mental health and substance use treatment. A charge of resisting/obstructing an officer was dismissed.

June 2, 2020

A TV photojournalist and reporter were assaulted on-air while reporting on the aftermath of protests in Madison, Wisconsin, on June 2, 2020.

NBC15 News photojournalist Curt Lenz and reporter Amelia Jones were on State Street in downtown Madison, reporting live for the local station’s morning news after a third night of protests against police violence and in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

In a video clip from the news program from that morning, Lenz’s camera is turned toward Jones, who is holding a microphone and about to deliver a report. Then suddenly the camera pans to show a man on a bicycle approaching, before the live news feed cuts off.

According to a report from the City of Madison Police Department, the suspect had been going through looted goods from a nearby 7-Eleven. Right after the camera panned, the report said that the suspect charged toward Lenz and the camera, throwing bottles, then grabbing Lenz and “vigorously shaking him and his camera” before leaving the scene on a bicycle.

While neither Lenz nor Jones could be reached for comment by the time of publication, the incident was confirmed to the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker by NBC15 management.

After a chase, Madison police captured and arrested 40-year-old Michael E. Campbell, for “battery, disorderly conduct, resisting/obstructing, and on a probation hold,” according to the police report.

According to a news report on the incident from NBC15, Jones and Lenz were described as “shaken” but okay after the incident.

The news story said that just prior to the assault, Lenz had been recording people at a 7-Eleven store that had been looted. The suspect saw Lenz and informed him he did not want to be recorded.

The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker documents journalists assaulted, arrested, struck by crowd-control ammunition or tear gas or who had their equipment damaged in the course of reporting. Find all incidents related to Black Lives Matter and anti-police brutality protests here.

The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker catalogues press freedom violations in the United States. Email tips to [email protected].