U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Freelance photographer assaulted by police while covering Detroit protests

Incident Details

Date of Incident
June 2, 2020
Detroit, Michigan


Was the journalist targeted?
June 2, 2020

Freelance photographer Sean Work was assaulted by police officers while covering protests against police violence in Detroit, Michigan, on June 2, 2020.

Work told the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker in an email that he had been following protesters as they marched through downtown that evening. At 8:47 p.m., after a curfew went into effect, Work said he’d been taking photos of police arresting protesters, with his two media passes prominently displayed — one hanging on a lanyard around his neck and another taped to his camera bag. An officer, he said, then came up behind him and forced him to the ground, while a second climbed on top of him while he was lying faceup.

Work said he screamed, “I’m media,” several times while holding up his credential. “Another officer then said ‘he’s media.’ The officer got off of me.”

Work said he was then ordered to move back from the scene.

The Detroit Police Department did not respond to multiple requests for comment as of press time.

Protests in the city that day were in response to a video showing a white police officer kneeling on the neck of George Floyd, a Black man, during an arrest in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on May 25. Protests against police brutality and in support of the Black Lives Matter movement have been held across the United States since the end of May.

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.

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