Freelance journalist hit with rubber bullet while covering protests in DC

August 31, 2020

Freelance journalist Andrew Jasiura told the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker that he was hit with a rubber bullet while covering protests in Washington, D.C. on Aug. 31, 2020.

On the night of Aug. 30 and early hours of Aug. 31, Jasiura was covering protests against police brutality and in support of the Black Lives Matter movement in downtown Washington, D.C.

The journalist, who has been covering the protests for several months as an independent photographer and filmmaker, said he was in the pedestrian area outside of the White House that was renamed “Black Lives Matter Plaza,” when a police officer fired a smoke grenade. Jasiura said that based on his past experience covering protests, he believed the grenade was a warning that officers were going to begin firing tear gas. The journalist walked across the street to put on a sweatshirt with a hood and a gas mask for protection, he told the Tracker.

As he was bent over to put on the hoodie and gas mask, a rubber bullet hit him in the rear end, he told the Tracker. Police officers had begun to fire rubber bullets to clear protesters from the plaza, but Jasiura believed he was targeted because he was “50 feet away from the police line…. and nowhere near the protesters.”

In a separate incident on Aug. 13, Jasiura told the Tracker he was released after being detained by police officers for several hours when a Metropolitan Police Department lieutenant recognized him.

The Metropolitan Police Department did not respond to a Tracker request for comment.

The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker is documenting several hundred incidents of journalists assaulted, arrested, struck by crowd control ammunition or tear gas or had their equipment damaged while covering protests across the country. Find these incidents here.

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

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