HuffPost editor Philip Lewis was struck by a crowd-control munition while covering protests in Washington, D.C., on May 30, 2020.
The protests were sparked by a video showing a Minneapolis, Minnesota, police officer kneeling on the neck of George Floyd, a Black man, for 7 minutes and 46 seconds during an arrest on May 25. Floyd was pronounced dead at a local hospital.
Lewis told the Committee to Protect Journalists — a founding partner of the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker — he was covering the protests near the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute when vandals began breaking out the windows of the building.
Police began releasing tear gas and setting off flash-bang grenades to disperse the crowd, Lewis said, and so he decided it was time to leave the area. As he tried to leave, he said he was struck by a small object in the left leg at around 11:35 p.m. “It was definitely a stinging pain,” he said.
Lewis did not recover the projectile after it hit him, but said he believed it to be a rubber bullet, due to the size of the mark it left and the fact that he had seen one on the ground earlier in the day. The Tracker could not confirm the type of projectile he was hit with.
Lewis tweeted about the incident a few minutes later:
Lewis, who was wearing press credentials at the time, did not believe he was the intended target. The projectile left behind a slight red bruise several days later, he said.
Kristen Metzger, a D.C. police spokeswoman, wrote in an email to the Tracker that the Metropolitan Police Department has not “deployed rubber bullets during the demonstrations.” In a follow-up email, she confirmed that the department “may deploy … when necessary,” pepper spray, sting ball grenades that expel tiny rubber balls at high velocity and tear gas.
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.