U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

CNN photojournalist assaulted while documenting Capitol riots

Incident Details

Date of Incident
January 6, 2021


Was the journalist targeted?
January 6, 2021

CNN photojournalist Ronnie McCray was assaulted by a rioter while covering the insurrection in and around the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, according to a news report.

Trump spoke at noon at a rally in front of the White House in response to the congressional certification of President-elect Joe Biden, promoting false claims of election fraud and calling for his supporters to march to the Capitol. After the rally, thousands of pro-Trump supporters waving Confederate and Trump flags violently stormed the Capitol, disrupting and occupying several areas within the building.

CNN reporter Alexander Marquardt tweeted shortly after 3 p.m. that “protesters swarmed and mobbed” his news team — including McCray — after discovering that they worked for CNN.

The Daily Beast reported that at one point a member of the mob assaulted McCray and smacked his camera; another individual got between the CNN team and the mob and told them they should leave before they got hurt.

In footage captured by McCray and posted on Twitter by Marquardt on Jan. 8, rioters can be heard booing the news team and shouting, “Get out of here, motherfuckers,” “Traitors” and “There’s more of us than you… We could absolutely fucking destroy you.”

“I was very afraid for my safety and my team’s,” Marquardt told The Daily Beast. “We were vastly outnumbered, surrounded, with no real escape route. We’re lucky we got out physically unscathed, just shaken, and our camera was hit. I’ve covered parliaments stormed, foreign coups, riots and protests across the Middle East and this was by far the most universally hostile crowd I’ve been in. In the city that I call home.”

As of press time, McCray had not responded to a message requesting comment.

The Tracker documents assaults, arrests and other incidents involving journalists covering protests across the country. Find election-related coverage here.

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