U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Getty photojournalist’s camera damaged by rubber bullets at Brooklyn Center protest

Incident Details

April 14, 2021

Getty Images photojournalist Scott Olson confirmed with the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker that his camera equipment was damaged by police officers while he was covering a protest in Brooklyn Center, Minneapolis, on April 14, 2021.

According to the St. Paul Pioneer Press, hundreds of demonstrators gathered outside the Brooklyn Center Police Department that evening to demand justice for 20-year-old Daunte Wright, a Black man who was shot and killed by a white Minnesota police officer during a traffic stop on April 11, 2021. Wright's death occurred as a former police officer in nearby Minneapolis was on trial in the death of George Floyd, rekindling a wave of protests against racial injustice and police brutality that had started nearly a year earlier.

The Pioneer Press reported that demonstrators chanted “Don’t shoot” and other slogans, threw objects at officers and tried to dismantle fences, while law enforcement responded with pepper spray and "marker" rounds. Shortly after 9 p.m., officers declared the protest an unlawful assembly, according to the paper.

"When the police let you know that you might be working a little too close to the action," Olson tweeted the next morning at 10:54 a.m. alongside a photograph of a cracked camera lens and lens hood.

Olson confirmed with the Tracker that the equipment was damaged from rubber bullets fired by police, but said in a Twitter message that he does not believe he was the intended target. “As I have learned from covering many similar situations, if you work close you are at greater risk of getting injured or equipment damaged,” Olson said. He declined to comment further.

Brooklyn Center Police Department did not respond immediately to an emailed request for comment. The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker is documenting assaults, arrests and other incidents involving journalists covering protests across the country.

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