European Pressphoto Agency photojournalist arrested during Minneapolis protests

May 30, 2020

A European Pressphoto Agency photojournalist was assaulted and later arrested alongside two other journalists while covering protests in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on May 30, 2020.

Multiple days of protests in Minneapolis and across the nation were sparked by a video showing a police officer kneeling on the neck of George Floyd, a black man, during an arrest on May 25. Floyd was later pronounced dead at a hospital. The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker documents all arrests separately. Find arrests of journalists covering protests related to the death of George Floyd here.

Tannen Maury told the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker that he was documenting a peaceful protest when Minnesota State Patrol troopers began to enforce the 8 p.m. curfew, warning all those still present to disperse.

“Five minutes later, they started marching up the street, launching tear gas and I guess rubber bullets, and everything else they have, and I got hit in the back with a projectile,” Maury said.

He believes he was struck with a tear gas canister judging from the large, white residue mark on his shirt and bulletproof vest. Because of his protective gear, Maury said, he was uninjured and able to continue working.

At just after 9 p.m, Maury was walking with freelance photojournalists Stephen Maturen and Craig Lassig on Nicollet Avenue toward 28th Street where a “parade” of police cruisers was driving, according to Maturen.

Maturen told the Tracker that a police cruiser had stopped abruptly on their block and began shooting less-lethal rounds at the handful of people around them.

The three photojournalists identified themselves as members of the media, and were initially told to keep moving.

A moment later, Maturen said, someone made the call to arrest the journalists.

Sheriff’s deputies ordered all three to get on the ground face down with their hands out, and they complied.

Maury said they explained that they were journalists and exempt from the curfew. “They were gentle, they weren’t rough with us at all,” he said.

The photojournalists were taken to the Hennepin County Public Safety Facility in downtown Minneapolis and cited with breaking the city’s curfew order, a misdemeanor which is punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 or up to 90 days in jail. The curfew order specifically exempted members of the news media, however. They were in police custody for approximately two hours.

Maury confirmed that all of their belongings were returned to them upon their release.

Neither the Minneapolis State Patrol nor the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Department could immediately be reached for comment.

The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker is documenting damage of equipment and multiple journalists arrested or struck by crowd control ammunition or tear gas while covering related protests across the country. 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]

July 22, 2020 Update

The City of Minneapolis dropped the misdemeanor charge brought against European Pressphoto Agency photojournalist Tannen Maury following his arrest on May 30, 2020.

Maury was arrested for being out past curfew alongside two other photojournalists while documenting protests sparked by the death of George Floyd, a Black man, during an arrest on May 26.

City spokesperson Casper Hill told the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker that around July 22, the staff in the City Attorney’s Office was tasked with dismissing all curfew violations and unlawful assembly charges in cases where there were no additional criminal charges.

Hill said that letters notifying individuals of the dropped charges were mailed to counsel for those who had it, with the assumption that the attorneys would notify their clients, and directly to those without counsel.

Maury did not respond to the Tracker’s email asking if he had received notification of the charges being dropped.

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