U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Detroit Free Press reporter detained, pushed to ground while covering a protest for story on police tactics

Incident Details

June 2, 2020

Detroit Free Press reporter Darcie Moran had her hands zip-tied and was flung to the ground by Detroit police while reporting on protests in the city on June 2, 2020, the reporter told the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Moran said that she was working on a story about police tactics and observed police blocking a line of protesters on Gratiot Avenue and an armored vehicle coming up from behind the protesters.

Moran said she was standing on a grassy area with other reporters near the Family Dollar store at 10950 Gratiot Avenue while the protesters were in the streets. She stepped slightly away from the group to get a better glimpse of the protesters.

“All of a sudden there was a rush to my right and I can’t say exactly what happened because it was a little bit of a blur,” she said, stating that protesters might have run up to the curb between the grassy area and the street.

“What I do know is that police started coming up from the side and not from the spots that we had been facing,” she said. “I turned and as I go to lift up my press badge that’s hanging on my chest, I am pushed to the ground and they start putting me in zip ties,” she said.

Moran said she had a respirator on at the time and so wasn’t sure if police could hear her yell, “I’m media, I’m media!” Moran said her colleagues behind her were yelling that she was a member of the media and for police to release her once she was on the ground.

Moran’s colleagues posted a video of the incident online. “You can see in the video that he allows me to put my phone in my back pocket,” Moran said.

Another officer walked up and instructed his colleague to release Moran, the journalist said. Moran said that until she saw the video, she didn’t realize that her second hand was in the process of being zip-tied when the police officer intervened.

“What’s interesting about this is they had released media passes for these events two nights prior,” Moran said. “[I] had a giant one printed out and used duck tape to strap it on my back, so it was a very large sign that a number of people pointed out would have been visible as I was on the ground being zip-tied,” she told CPJ, a founding partner of the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker.

Moran said that the officer who ended the confrontation helped her up from the ground, apologized and then found her later to apologize again. Moran said she had a scratch and some back and ankle pain the next day.

Detroit police did not respond to CPJ’s emailed request for comment.

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