U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Freelance journalist detained while reporting on climate activists

Incident Details


Freelance journalist Will Allen-DuPraw, center, was detained while on assignment for News2Share documenting climate activists distributing flyers at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 17, 2023.

November 17, 2023

Freelance journalist Will Allen-DuPraw was detained by security at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., while reporting on climate activists at the museum on Nov. 17, 2023.

Allen-DuPraw told the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker that he was on assignment for News2Share, a collective that sells footage to news outlets, to film as two protesters handed out flyers encouraging museum patrons to call on President Joe Biden to declare a climate emergency.

Security officers told the protesters they needed to leave after approximately 20 minutes, Allen-DuPraw said, and he continued to film as one of them refused to immediately leave and was walked out in handcuffs. Shortly after, Allen-DuPraw was handcuffed as well.

In footage posted by News2Share co-founder and Editor-in-Chief Ford Fischer, Allen-DuPraw can be heard asking the detained protester whether he had any statements to make as a security officer led him away in handcuffs. As the man begins to answer, one security guard blocks the journalist’s camera while a second begins to place Allen-DuPraw under arrest.

“All of the sudden I was pushed from behind up against a pillar in the museum,” Allen-DuPraw said. “He seemed to be more of an actual police officer, he was wearing a white shirt and had a badge.”

The National Gallery employs a mix of federal and private security staff and it was unclear which were involved in the detention.

Allen-DuPraw said he identified himself as a journalist and while he wasn’t wearing credentials, he had his National Press Photographers Association identification in his wallet.

“Sir, I’m an independent journalist, you cannot put your hands on me, sir,” Allen-DuPraw said. “You have no reason to detain me, I’m on assignment right now recording and exercising my First Amendment rights.”

The security officer is heard telling him that he will “come down” with the officers, they’ll identify him and then he can do whatever he wants to do. When Allen-DuPraw asks why he is being detained, the officer does not reply.

The National Gallery of Art did not respond to requests for comment.

Allen-DuPraw told the Tracker that he was led down to the basement conference room and, once there, he was patted down, his pockets emptied and his photo taken from the front and side by an officer. After approximately 30 minutes, he, the two protesters and the bystander were released without charges.

Allen-DuPraw said that it was particularly alarming that — despite identifying himself as a journalist to multiple officers — no effort was made to verify his press credentials. “A lack of training was just evident,” he added.

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