U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Freelance photojournalist shoved to the ground, arrested at NYC protest

Incident Details

Date of Incident
May 7, 2024
New York, New York

Arrest/Criminal Charge

Arresting Authority
New York City Police Department
  • Unknown
    • May. 8, 2024: Charges pending
    • May. 8, 2024: Charges dropped
Detention Date
Release Date
Unnecessary use of force?


Was the journalist targeted?

Equipment Damage


Photojournalist Olga Fedorova was knocked to the ground by a New York City police officer while covering pro-Palestinian protests at the Fashion Institute of Technology on May 7, 2024. She was arrested moments later, but the charges were later dropped.

May 7, 2024

Freelance photojournalist Olga Fedorova was shoved to the ground and arrested by New York City police while documenting a pro-Palestinian protest on May 7, 2024.

Officers had moved in to dismantle a protest outside of Manhattan’s Fashion Institute of Technology, the last campus encampment in the city, according to Gothamist. A separate group of protesters had marched from Union Square a mile to the campus in solidarity with the calls for a cease-fire in the Israel-Gaza war and divestment from Israeli companies.

Fedorova told the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker she was on assignment for two news outlets — taking stills for the European Pressphoto Agency and video for FreedomNews.TV while covering the Union Square march and then the student rally to protect the encampment.

“There were reports that a police sweep of the encampment was imminent,” Fedorova said. “When there eventually was a sweep, I ran around to where the students who had been arrested would be loaded into buses and taken away. And, as has happened pretty frequently recently, people tried to block the buses from leaving and attempt to de-arrest the students.”

Police then moved in to arrest everyone in the street, Fedorova said, and she remained to document the violent detention of a woman, the photographer kneeling to capture an image of the woman’s face between the legs of the officers.

In footage from Status Coup photojournalist Jon Farina, officers can be seen arresting protesters and directing everyone to get off the street or face arrest. At 1:04 in the video, Fedorova can be seen beginning to kneel and raise her camera when an officer forcefully pushes her to the ground and shouts for her to go to the edge of the street.

Fedorova then points her camera up at the officer, and the officer moves to grab her camera before ultimately pulling her up by her arm and behind the advancing line of police. Fedorova and Farina both verbally identified her as a journalist, and in a photo captured by photojournalist Alex Kent, her professional camera and press credential can be clearly seen hanging around her neck.

Fedorova told the Tracker that during her arrest one of her camera lenses was dented and a lens hood lost. Her press badge was damaged both when she fell and when officers roughly tried to pull it off her.

A second photojournalist, independent photographer Josh Pacheco, was arrested moments before Fedorova; their arrest is documented here. Both journalists were transported to New York City Police Department headquarters at One Police Plaza, where they were processed.

Fedorova said they were released nearly four hours later, in the early morning of May 8, and informed that the arrests had been voided. She told the Tracker she doesn’t know what the charges were before they were dropped.

“I received zero paperwork from them. It almost seemed like they wanted to make it go away, like it never happened,” Fedorova told the Tracker, adding that the worst part was that the arrest prevented her from continuing her coverage.

Both journalists reported having marks on their wrists from being cuffed too tightly, and Fedorova told the Tracker that one of her hands was still numb.

The NYPD did not respond to a request for comment.

Mickey Osterreicher, general counsel for the National Press Photographers Association, told the Tracker that while voiding the charges was a good step, the journalists should not have been arrested in the first place.

“While the NPPA is glad that some common sense prevailed by the NYPD not charging these two photographers with any crime, we are very concerned that they are perfecting ‘catch-and-release’ to an art form,” Osterreicher said. “The fact that they took two photojournalists off the street, preventing them from making any more images or transmitting the ones they already had on a matter of extreme public concern, is very disturbing.”

Osterreicher added that he and other attorneys involved in a 2021 lawsuit on behalf of multiple news photographers against the NYPD for press freedom aggressions had a scheduled meeting with the city and police on May 8 to discuss the historic settlement reached in that case. The settlement included extensive rules governing the NYPD’s interactions with journalists, and Osterreicher said they raised the issue of Fedorova and Pacheco’s arrests.

“From our perspective, they’re not living up to the terms of the agreement that we fought for three years to get,” he said. “We raised those issues with the city and the NYPD and we plan to have further meetings with them soon to avoid these continuing abridgments of journalists’ rights.”

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