U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Chicago Sun-Times reporter punched while covering inauguration protest

Incident Details

Date of Incident
January 20, 2017
Chicago, Illinois


Was the journalist targeted?
Sam Charles

Sam Charles was attacked while filming a protester spray paint this "Die Fascist Scum" graffiti in Chicago, Illinois, on January 20, 2017.

— Sam Charles
January 20, 2017

Chicago Sun-Times reporter Sam Charles was punched in the chest while covering an anti-Trump protest in Chicago on Jan. 20, 2017 — the day of Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration.

Charles told the Freedom of the Press Foundation that, while reporting on the Chicago protest, he spotted a woman with a black mask spray painting “Die Fascist Scum” on a bus stop and took out his phone to record it. When he started recording, another man attacked him.

“Two seconds into the video, a guy runs over to me, knocks the phone out of my hand and then punches me in the chest,” he said.

Video filmed by Charles shows a man quickly approaching the camera, just before the camera seems to be thrown violently to the side. “Get the fuck out of here!” a man can be heard yelling on the video.

After being punched, Charles left the area but continued to cover the protest. He said that he did not notify police about the assault because his priority was continuing to report on the protest.

“It’s one of those things where, in that moment, it’s not my main focus,” he said. “My main focus is on getting back to work.”

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