U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Daily Caller journalist beaten, detained by police while covering protests in Wisconsin

Incident Details

October 8, 2020

Richie McGinniss, video director for the national news site the Daily Caller, was beaten and detained by police while covering a protest in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin on Oct. 8, 2020.

The protest came one day after a Milwaukee County prosecutor announced that his office would not bring charges against a Wauwatosa police officer who shot and killed Black teenager Alvin Cole on Feb. 2. Cole refused to put down a gun and ran away from police following a disturbance at a mall. The protests came as demonstrations against police brutality and racial injustice had been held for months across the country, including in Wisconsin.

On the day after the prosecutor’s announcement, protests continued past a 7 p.m. curfew that was in effect in Wauwatosa, a suburb of Milwaukee. McGinniss was detained while he was filming police arresting Tracy Cole, Alvin Cole’s mother, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. McGinniss did not respond to a request for an interview, but described the incident on Twitter.

Video McGinniss posted on Twitter shows that an officer approached him as he was filming the arrest. McGinniss can be heard telling police that he has press credentials and identifying himself as working for the Daily Caller.

Officers told him to leave, and as he moved away, someone shouted, “Don’t let me catch you,” the video shows.

The video continues as McGinniss crossed a parking lot to his car, where several officers suddenly shouted to “get down on the ground,” as McGinniss repeated that he had press credentials.

Blair Nelson, an independent journalist who had been accompanying McGinniss, was also ordered to the ground and restrained, Nelson told the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker. Police also detained McGinniss’s Daily Caller colleague Shelby Talcott and independent journalist Brendan Gutenschwager, who were in the car. The Tracker is documenting all arrests here.

Officers hit McGinnis multiple times with a club, Talcott tweeted in a description of the encounter with police.

Talcott wrote that she and McGinniss were both detained but were released after police determined they were journalists. Gutenschwager and Nelson were both arrested and cited for violating an emergency order.

Photos Talcott posted showed that McGinniss was cut on his forehead during the encounter, and the pair sustained other scrapes and bruises during the encounter.

In response to the incident, Daily Caller publisher and co-founder Neil Patel said in a statement reported by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that “there is a definite problem” in the Wauwatosa Police Department. “They were brutally beaten with clubs for no reason,” he said.

A spokesperson for the Wauwatosa Police Department did not return requests for comment about the incident.

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.

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