U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Fox News photojournalist, crew chased from park while documenting DC protests

Incident Details

REUTERS/Eric Thayer

On May 30, U.S. Secret Service uniformed division officers face demonstrators during a rally near the White House in Washington, D.C. A Fox News crew was assaulted, its equipment damaged.

— REUTERS/Eric Thayer
May 30, 2020

Fox News photojournalist Christian Galdabini and his news crew were chased out of Washington, D.C.’s Lafayette Park by a mob on May 30, 2020.

Protests that began in Minnesota on May 26 have spread across the country, sparked by a video showing a police officer kneeling on the neck of George Floyd, a black man, during an arrest the day before. Floyd was later pronounced dead at a hospital.

Fox correspondent Leland Vittert told the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker he arrived with Galdabini and two Fox security officers to report on the protests near the White House at about 8:30 p.m. Galdabini did not respond to an email requesting comment.

The protest was “entirely peaceful” during the early evening, Vittert said, but grew more restless later into the night.

Around midnight, one protester wearing a black and white bandana kept approaching them, questioning which outlet they worked for and why they were there. An hour later, Vittert said he noticed that the protester had stopped recording them and was looking at his phone.

As photojournalist Galdabini told Fox, “Somehow he figured out that we were Fox News and decided that that should be announced.”

Vittert told the Tracker that shortly after, “A crowd of about 50 people surrounded us, a number of them stopped throwing things at the Secret Service [officers] and started beating on us.”

In footage captured by The Daily Caller, Vittert, Galdabini and their security officers can be seen making their way out of the park while numerous voices call out curses and shout “Fuck Fox News!”

Vittert told the Tracker that while they attempted to leave, individuals threw objects at them, grabbed their microphone and used it as a club against them. One of their security officers was punched in the face, and Vittert received more than one blow to his stomach.

The camera Galdabini was carrying was also broken when one of the individuals attempted to grab it. The crew eventually found refuge near a police cruiser outside the park, Vittert said.

“We were all pretty roughed up,” he said.

Fox News Media CEO Suzanne Scott denounced the assault in a statement published by the outlet.

“We strongly condemn these actions against FOX News Media reporting teams as well as all other reporters from any media outlets who are simply trying to do their jobs and report the news during an extraordinary time in our country’s history,” Scott said.

The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker documents journalists being assaulted, arrested, struck by crowd-control ammunition or tear gas or who had their equipment damaged in the course of reporting. Find all incidents related to Black Lives Matter and anti-police brutality protests here.

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