Mark Stevens, a reporter for CBS 58 News in Milwaukee, said he was struck and injured by a projectile — possibly a crowd control weapon — while covering a protest in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on Aug. 25, 2020.
Protests began in Kenosha after police shot Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, on a residential street on Aug. 23. Demonstrations against police violence and racism had been held across the country, including in Wisconsin, since late May.
Stevens told the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker he was covering a protest outside the Kenosha County Courthouse with a CBS 58 photojournalist and a security guard on the evening of the second day of demonstrations. The protest was largely peaceful at the beginning, but Stevens said some protesters became more aggressive as the evening wore on.
In preparation for a live broadcast at 9 p.m, Stevens said he initially set up with a view of the burned wreckage of dump trucks parked near the courthouse. However, he said the CBS 58 team moved into a nearby park, farther away from protesters, when some people started pulling debris from the trucks to throw at police and the National Guard.
Stevens said the team kept the camera light off to avoid attracting attention, then turned it on just before the broadcast was set to begin.
About two minutes before he was supposed to go live, Stevens said, a projectile struck him in the back of his neck, knocking him to the ground and leaving him with a bruise and broken skin.
Protest medics who came to help him told him they believed he was hit by a rubber bullet. Based on footage his colleague recorded of the incident, Stevens said he thought it might have been a bean bag, a cloth sack of lead shot that police use for crowd control.
But Stevens said he wasn’t certain what the projectile was, or who fired it, though it may have come from police. Law enforcement parked an armored vehicle near where the journalists were filming, he said, and there were reports that police had used projectiles for crowd control during protests the previous night.
A spokesperson for the Kenosha Police Department said police had no report about the incident and declined to comment on it.
Stevens said he was wearing press credentials on a lanyard around his neck when he was hit. He said his group was clearly identifiable as a television news crew because of the camera gear they carried. He said he didn’t seek further medical attention or report the incident to police.
The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker is documenting several hundred incidents of journalists being assaulted, arrested, struck by crowd control ammunition or tear gas, or having their equipment damaged while covering these protests across the country. Find these incidents here.