U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

CBS journalist reports ‘minor dust up’ while covering DC election protest

Incident Details

November 4, 2020

CBS national reporter Christina Ruffini and her crew were briefly accosted while covering election-related, pro-Black Lives Matter demonstrations in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 4, 2020.

Ruffini tweeted footage of the incident, which she described as a “minor dust up with protestors outside #blmplaza who didn’t like us filming,” referring to Black Lives Matter Plaza, a two-block section of 16th Street in Washington stretching north from the White House.

In the video, an individual wearing black bloc — a tactic used by some protesters to conceal their identities by wearing black and baggy clothing and face coverings — can be seen approaching the news crew’s camera with a raised hand.

After the individual places a hand blocking the camera lens, a voice can be heard saying, “Don’t touch it, don’t touch it!” Ruffini appears at the right-hand side of the shot and appears to try to protect the camera and its operator, separating the individual from the equipment.

As the camera operator moves back, Ruffini can still be seen interacting with the individual and others and appears to drop her cellphone. When she attempts to bend over to pick it up, the individual in black bloc swings his arm against her, blocking her. Ruffini backs up a step, during which the individual attempts to kick away the phone.

Ruffini was able to recover the phone seconds later, but it was not immediately clear whether the device was damaged during the scuffle.

When contacted by the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker, Ruffini said she needed approval from superiors before she could comment on the encounter. No further comment was received by Tracker.

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