Freelance journalist Nick Pinto was pushed to the ground by New York City police officers while covering protests in New York on the night of June 4, 2020, despite having visible NYPD-issued press credentials.
The protests were held 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. Floyd was pronounced dead at a local hospital. 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.
Pinto told the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker that he and other journalists were following a few hundred people as they marched through the Fort Greene neighborhood of Brooklyn late in the evening. Dozens of police officers trailing the group informed the protesters that they were violating the city’s 8 p.m. curfew. As protesters reached the corner of Washington Avenue and Fulton Street, Pinto said, “the police made a move to clear the intersection. It was sudden and forceful, a lot of laying on batons, a lot of people knocked to the ground.” The scene was captured on video by journalist Noah Hurowitz:
This maneuver trapped protesters between two lines of police officers. In the commotion, an officer pushed Pinto, who fell into a pile of garbage bags. Pinto said he was helped to his feet by an officer, but then pushed from behind by another. The altercation was captured on video by journalist John Knefel, who can be heard repeatedly telling officers that Pinto is a journalist:
The group of protesters and press were contained by police until Public Advocate Jumaane Williams and City Council Member Brad Lander, who were in the crowd, negotiated with officers to allow people to leave the area 20 at a time.
Though Pinto’s credentials were visible, he didn’t feel as though he was singled out because he was a member of the media. “In this particular instance, I think it was just generalized violence,” he said.
NYPD did not respond to a 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.