U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Independent journalist assaulted while documenting anti-vaccine protest

Incident Details

December 18, 2021

Independent videographer Sean Beckner-Carmitchel was assaulted while documenting an anti-vaccination protest in Los Angeles, California, on Dec. 18, 2021.

Beckner-Carmitchel told the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker he arrived shortly after 1 p.m. to document an anti-vaccination mandate protest outside Getty House, the official home of Los Angeles' mayor. Approximately 10 protesters were gathered outside the residence, Beckner-Carmitchel said, and he initially intended on only documenting the demonstration for 30 minutes or so.

An individual approached the journalist at around 1:20 p.m., upset that he had been filmed at a previous protest, Beckner-Carmitchel said.

Beckner-Carmitchel, who told the Tracker he was wearing his National Press Photographers Association press credentials, said the man challenged him to a fight and accused him of publishing private information, or doxxing, multiple individuals.

“Why don’t you go back to what you were doing,” Beckner-Carmitchel can be heard saying in footage from the interaction. “I’m not here to disturb you, I’m not here to disrupt you.”

As police began to arrive at the scene, Beckner-Carmitchel wrote on Twitter that other individuals approached the man who was threatening him and convinced him to walk away and rejoin the protest.

Approximately 10 minutes later, Beckner-Carmitchel wrote that he was attempting to interview Derrick Gates, a Republican candidate for California’s 33rd Congressional District, when the man who threatened him earlier returned and slapped his phone from his hands.

“It’s OK, buddy, it’s OK. I’m OK with it, really,” Gates can be heard telling the man. “He has a right to ask questions.”

Beckner-Carmitchel told the Tracker his phone was not damaged. He also said that a police cruiser was parked approximately 20 feet away from them during the incident, but officers did not approach them before or after and he did not file a police report.

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