U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Camera equipment stolen from Chicago Tribune photographer during protests

Incident Details

May 30, 2020

A photographer for the Chicago Tribune was shoved and had her cameras stolen by two unidentified men while covering protests in downtown Chicago, Illinois, on the night of May 30, 2020.

The protests were sparked by a video showing a Minneapolis police officer kneeling on the neck of George Floyd, a black man, during an arrest on May 25. Floyd was pronounced dead at a local hospital.

Tribune photographer Erin Hooley said she had been photographing protests and altercations between demonstrators and the police when looting broke out. While photographing the looting of a CVS at the intersection of South Wabash and East Monroe Street around 9 p.m., she said she overheard a woman yell, “Get that bitch’s cameras!” Suddenly, she said, two men shoved her to the sidewalk, grabbed the cameras she had strung around her neck and shoulder, and ran off. Hooley said she was bruised but otherwise uninjured in the attack.

After picking up both herself and her press badge, Hooley said she walked down the street to see if the men had dropped the cameras but they were gone. She called her editor to report what had happened and then went home. Hooley said she saw police officers around the corner from where she was attacked but that they didn’t appear to be intervening to stop the looting.

Hooley said her cameras were owned by the Tribune company, which did not ask her to file a police report. The photographer said a Canon representative sent her loaner gear and that she returned to cover the protests in the following days.

According to the photojournalist, what bothered her most was the loss not of physical equipment, but rather several hours’ worth of photographs she had taken prior to the assault. Hooley said she had transferred about eight images to her editor while still in the streets, but that the rest were gone. “I was pretty angry about losing that stuff because it’s very historical,” she said. “It robbed me of being able to share this crazy time we are living in, and that’s very frustrating.”

The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker is documenting several hundred total incidents of journalists assaulted, arrested, struck by crowd control ammunition or tear gas or had their equipment damaged while covering protests across the country related to the death of George Floyd while in police custody. Find all of these cases here.

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