U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

BuzzFeed News reporter says was grabbed, shoved by law enforcement while covering protests in NYC

Incident Details

Date of Incident
June 4, 2020
New York, New York


Was the journalist targeted?
REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

Demonstrators march in the Manhattan borough of New York City on June 4, 2020.

— REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
June 4, 2020

Rosalind Adams, an investigative reporter for BuzzFeed News, said she was grabbed and shoved by law enforcement officers while covering protests in Manhattan on June 4, 2020.

Protests in New York and across the United States were in response to police brutality and in support of the Black Lives Matter movement following a viral video that showed a white police officer kneeling on the neck of George Floyd, a Black man, during an arrest in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on May 25. Floyd was pronounced dead at a local hospital.

Adams had spent much of the afternoon of June 4 posting on her Twitter feed as she covered a memorial for Floyd in Cadman Plaza in the Brooklyn borough of the city. She followed attendees as they marched across the Brooklyn Bridge into the Manhattan borough of the city. Later that evening, about half an hour before the city’s 8 p.m. curfew, according to her feed, she’d joined up with a group of protesters walking west on 48th Street.

About an hour past curfew, Adams reported, the group was a couple hundred strong and had been very peaceful for much of the evening.

But at about 10:15 p.m., as the group reached the intersection of 5th Avenue and East 59th Street, Adams told the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker in an interview that she saw police moving in from the east and west, kettling the crowd. Kettling is a tactical maneuver used by law enforcement to hem in protesters.

“It happened so quickly, I didn’t even see where the cops came from,” she said.

Adams tweeted that officers “rushed the intersection” and began to make arrests.

Adams said she took out her phone to film an arrest, telling the Tracker that that’s when an officer grabbed her arm, shoving her back. “I’m press, I’m press!” Adams said she yelled as she continued to film.

Adams said officers kept pushing her. One used his baton to block her arm and pushed her chest, she said. “He must have hit my arms, and pushed me around the shoulders,” she said.

She walked backward, keeping an eye out. She said that’s when another officer grabbed her phone and pushed her. Then, several more police grabbed her.

Adams said the police tried to push all the journalists to the sidewalk, with one telling her, “You’re in the arrest area!”

She said another officer yelled, “If you don’t have a press card, we will collar you!” Adams had her BuzzFeed ID, but no New York Police Department-issued credentials.

According to NY1, more than 200 people across the city were taken into custody that evening.

The New York Police Department did not return phone or email requests for comment.

The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker is documenting several hundred incidents of journalists assaulted, arrested, struck by crowd-control ammunition or tear gas, or had their equipment damaged while covering protests across the country. Find these incidents here.

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