Freelance photojournalist arrested while covering Minneapolis protest

May 30, 2020

Freelance photojournalist Craig Lassig was arrested alongside two other journalists while covering protests in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on May 30, 2020.

Multiple days of protests in Minneapolis and across the nation were sparked by a video showing a police officer kneeling on the neck of George Floyd, a black man, during an arrest on May 25. Floyd was later pronounced dead at a hospital. The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker documents all arrests separately. Find arrests of journalists covering protests related to the death of George Floyd here.

At just after 9 p.m., Lassig was walking with photojournalists Stephen Maturen and Tannen Maury on Nicollet Avenue toward 28th Street where a “parade” of police cruisers was driving, according to Maturen.

Maturen told the Tracker that a police cruiser had stopped abruptly on their block and began shooting less-lethal rounds at the handful of people around them.

The three photojournalists identified themselves as members of the media, and were initially told to keep moving.

A moment later, Maturen said, someone made the call to arrest the journalists.

Lassig told the Tracker that the arrest was uneventful.

“The cop that handled me was professional and was careful with my gear,” Lassig said.

Aside from the fact that there was no reason to detain the three of them, he said, they were treated well and only in police custody for approximately two hours.

The journalists were taken to the Hennepin County Public Safety Facility in downtown Minneapolis and cited with breaking the city’s curfew order, a misdemeanor which is punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 or up to 90 days in jail.The curfew order specifically exempted members of the news media, however.

Maturen told the Tracker that all of their belongings were returned to them upon their release.

Neither the Minneapolis State Patrol nor the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Department could immediately be reached for comment.

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]

June 8, 2020 Update

Freelance photojournalist Craig Lassig joined the ACLU of Minnesota’s lawsuit against the City of Minneapolis and law enforcement following his arrest on May 30, 2020.

The ACLU filed the initial complaint on June 2, naming as defendants the city, Police Officers Federation President Lt. Robert Kroll, police chief Medaria Arradondo, Minnesota Department of Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington and Minnesota State Patrol Col. Matthew Langer, as well as two John Does.

Lassig, who was arrested for being out past curfew alongside two other photojournalists while documenting protests sparked by the death of George Floyd, joined the suit on June 8, according to an amended complaint reviewed by the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker.

August 3, 2020 Update

The City of Minneapolis dropped the misdemeanor charge brought against freelance photojournalist Craig Lassig following his arrest on May 30, 2020.

Lassig was arrested for being out past curfew alongside two other photojournalists while documenting protests sparked by the death of George Floyd, a Black man, during an arrest on May 26.

City spokesperson Casper Hill told the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker that around July 22, the staff in the City Attorney’s Office were tasked with dismissing all curfew violations and unlawful assembly charges in cases where there were no additional criminal charges.

Hill said that letters notifying individuals of the dropped charges were mailed to counsel for those who had it, with the assumption that the attorneys would notify their clients, and directly to those without counsel.

Lassig shared with the Tracker a copy of an Aug. 3 letter that he received from the City Attorney’s Office notifying him that the charge against him had been dropped.

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