Freelance journalist arrested amid Los Angeles protests

May 30, 2020

Los Angeles police officers arrested freelance journalist Oren Peleg while he was covering protests in the city on May 30, 2020.

Protests that began in Minnesota on May 26 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.

Peleg told the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker that he was reporting on protests in downtown Los Angeles that had been declared an unlawful assembly the day before.

At approximately 7:10 p.m., officers advanced on the crowd of approximately 20 protesters, blocking off all exits and forming a kettle. As police squeezed in on them, one of the protesters called out for everyone to sit down, at which point Peleg said he identified himself to police as a member of the press.

“They told me it was too late, that ‘you’re already here, you’re already part of this, we gave you an hour to disperse, so now central booking will take care of you,’” Peleg said.

He said that at no point did he hear officers give an order for the crowd to disperse.

Officers zip-tied Peleg along with the rest of the protesters and told him to sit down on a curb to await a city bus to come by to transfer all of them to Metropolitan Detention Center.

After approximately 30 minutes, the bus had still not arrived, Peleg said, and all of the arrestees were processed in the field. He provided an officer with his address, phone, email, license ID, social security number, and employer, and said police wrote his identifying information on an arrest card.

Peleg said he does not know whether charges for failure to disperse have been brought against him. He said an officer told him not to worry about the card, and that nothing would happen with it.

“When they released us, [the officers] said, ‘We’re releasing you now. If any are detained again you will be arrested and sent to jail,’” Peleg said.

The Los Angeles Police Department told the Tracker that it does not have any information about Peleg’s arrest at this time.

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]

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