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Multiple photojournalists hit with projectiles while covering Denver protests

May 29, 2020

In separate incidents, Denver police attacked Hart Van Denburg, visuals editor for Colorado Public Radio and Taylor Schuss, a photojournalist with Denver NBC affiliate 9News KUSA, while they were covering protests in the city on May 29, 2020.

Protests that began in Minnesota on May 26 have spread across the country, sparked by a video showing a police officer kneeling on the neck of George Floyd, a black man, during an arrest the day before. Floyd was later pronounced dead at a hospital.

Police fired a tear gas canister that hit Denburg on the chin while he was covering the protests. He posted a selfie to Twitter documenting his bruised chin, and expressing gratitude to those who shared milk with him to dampen the effect of the tear gas:

Details regarding precisely where in Denver the incident occurred were not immediately available, and Van Denburg — who covered the protests again the following day — did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

That same evening, police fired a pepper ball that hit Schuss on the ankle, according to Tim Ryan, director of content at 9News KUSA, who summarized the incident in an email to the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker.

Ryan wrote that Schuss and the reporter he was with, Steve Staeger, “don’t believe they were targeted as journalists but rather happened to be in a group of protesters who were targeted.”

Staeger later tweeted about the incident, also adding that a protester had sprayed Schuss’ camera lens with some substance while they were covering the demonstrations:

Schuss did not reply to an interview request sent via Twitter message.

Requests for comment on these incidents sent to the Denver Police Department were not immediately returned.

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]

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