Fox News national correspondent Lauren Blanchard, producer Nick Rojas and photojournalist Les Baker were briefly detained by police while reporting on a protest in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, on April 14, 2021, a spokesperson for the network told the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker.
Demonstrations were held several days in a row in Brooklyn Center, a city near Minneapolis, in response to the fatal police shooting of Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Black man, during a traffic stop on April 11.
The Fox News team was reporting live from the Brooklyn Center protests for Fox affiliates, spokesperson Tessica Glancey said in an email.
The team was outside the Brooklyn Center Police Department as confrontation escalated between demonstrators and police. Blanchard tweeted at 9:48 p.m. that police had declared an unlawful assembly and shortly after that wrote that police were beginning to use flash-bang grenades, a crowd-control device. At 10:13 p.m., she tweeted that law enforcement was blocking protesters as the crowd began to break apart and run.
Seven minutes later, Blanchard posted on Twitter that police had stopped her news crew as they were trying to leave the area.
Blanchard wrote that police ordered them to get out of their cars and to get on the ground, took pictures of their press credentials, and allowed them to leave after about five minutes.
In a post on Instagram the next day, Blanchard wrote that her crew was stopped and ordered to get on the ground with their hands up, even though she tried repeatedly to tell law enforcement that they were members of the press.
Video included with the post shows multiple officers approaching them, wearing fluorescent yellow jackets, helmets and large decals marked “state trooper” within the shape of the state of Minnesota. One trooper says, “IDs please, press IDs please.”
Blanchard can be heard identifying herself as working with Fox and says other people nearby her are her security team. Two security contractors accompanied the journalists.
“They were told to leave a long time ago,” one voice can be heard saying, as officers take pictures of their press credentials.
Blanchard wrote that the troopers “scolded us for being there” and told them that journalists had been ordered to leave, though Blanchard said they did not hear that order.
Members of the media were exempt from the curfew order Gov. Tim Waltz issued on April 12 for four counties, including Hennepin County, where Brooklyn Center is located.
According to the spokesperson for Fox, the news team was fine and was able to continue reporting after they moved to a different area.
Minnesota State Patrol did not immediately respond to the Tracker’s request for comment.
The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker documents journalists 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.