U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Editor struck, sprayed with chemical irritant at UCLA protest

Incident Details

Date of Incident
May 1, 2024


Was the journalist targeted?

Dolores Quintana, co-editor of the Santa Monica Mirror, was assaulted multiple times, sprayed with a chemical irritant and had her phone knocked from her hands while covering clashing protests at the University of California, Los Angeles, on May 1, 2024.

May 1, 2024

Dolores Quintana, co-editor of the weekly newspaper the Santa Monica Mirror, was sprayed with a chemical irritant, struck in the back and harassed while reporting on pro-Palestinian protests at the University of California, Los Angeles, on May 1, 2024.

UCLA’s student newspaper, the Daily Bruin, reported that protesters had erected the encampment on campus April 25 to call for a cease-fire in the Israel-Gaza war and demand that the UC system divest from companies that invest in weapons manufacturers for the Israeli military.

As the protest neared its seventh day, a group of approximately 100 pro-Israeli counterprotesters attempted to storm the encampment, the Bruin reported, tearing down the barricades surrounding it and shooting fireworks inside.

Quintana told the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker that she arrived shortly before 1 a.m. on May 1 while the clash was well underway.

“My job as a journalist is to get the story, to take photos and capture video,” Quintana said. “So I walked right into it.”

Over the 15 minutes that followed, the journalist told the Tracker, she was assaulted multiple times. First, she said she felt pain on her back and believes she was struck with one of the sticks she had seen counterprotesters carrying. Then, as someone stepped backward and she raised an arm to prevent them from toppling into her, another individual shouted “Fuck you!” at her and grabbed her.

Quintana told the individual to let go of her and they listened, after which she moved to another area of the protest encampment. While there, she said an individual deliberately knocked her phone from her hands. Though it took her a couple of minutes to find her phone in the darkness, Quintana was able to retrieve it undamaged.

As she then moved back toward the main protest area, Quintana told the Tracker someone came from behind her and sprayed a chemical irritant on the left side of her face from inches away.

“I saw the spray go into my eye, that’s how close they were,” she said. “I was lucky that they didn’t choose to continue attacking me in that moment, because what could I have done?”

Quintana said a medical student came to her aid and helped flush her eyes with water and saline.

She told the Tracker that later that night, after she had regained her bearings, a group of individuals she identified as counterprotesters surrounded and began harassing her, filming her and shining lights in her eyes while calling her derogatory names.

In a post on social media, Quintana shared images of her face after she was sprayed and of the residue left on her mask, and a video clip of individuals surrounding and harassing her.

“They are deliberately targeting us so that there’s no one there to take pictures and get video of the crimes that they are committing,” Quintana wrote.

Quintana told the Tracker she intends to file a police report about the attacks she suffered that night.

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