U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Detroit Free Press reporter charged by police, told to leave

Incident Details

Date of Incident
May 31, 2020
Detroit, Michigan


Was the journalist targeted?
May 31, 2020

On May 31, 2020, while covering protests in Detroit, Michigan, Detroit Free Press reporter Mark Kurlyandchik was charged by a police officer, who knocked his phone out of his hands as he was filming, and told by another to leave the area where press were permitted, according to Kurlyandchik’s tweets from that day.

Neither Kurlyandchik, the Free Press, nor the Detroit Police Department responded to the U.S. Press Freedom’s request for comment as of press time.

According to Kurlyandchik’s Twitter feed, the incident occurred after police had deployed tear gas and as he was putting on his goggles to protect against the gas.

Tweeted video footage from his phone shows dozens of riot police holding shields running toward the camera. After Kurlyandchik appears to collide with an officer, the phone falls to the ground, filming the sky.

It wasn’t clear if there were protesters around. Kurlyandchik said in a separate tweet that he was with three other Free Press reporters and that another officer had tried to “force” them away from the area. “Said a guy with TV camera was fine to stay but he didn’t believe we were press despite all of us showing our badges,” Kurlyandchik tweeted. “I’m fine, but it shouldn’t take a big news camera to exercise our constitutional duty.” It wasn’t clear where exactly the incident took place.

The protests in Detroit that day were held in response to a video showing a white police officer kneeling on the neck of George Floyd, a Black man, during an arrest in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on May 25. Floyd was pronounced dead at a local hospital. Protests against police brutality and in support of the Black Lives Matter movement have been held across the United States since the end of May.

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 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].