Independent journalist detained, shoved during Echo Park protest in Los Angeles
At least 20 journalists were arrested, detained or assaulted in Los Angeles, California, while documenting demonstrations near Echo Park Lake on March 25, 2021, as reported to the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker, on social media and in other news outlets.
As crowds demonstrated against the city’s plan to clear a large homeless encampment, Los Angeles Police Department officers declared the gathering at the park’s northern entrance unlawful shortly after 8 p.m., The Washington Post reported.
Before anyone could exit, according to The Post, a supervising officer announced that everyone was under arrest and officers surrounded the group using a police tactic called “kettling.”
Independent journalist Jeremy Lindenfeld, whose website says his work has been published in the Chicago Sun-Times, Knock LA and other platforms, told the Tracker that he was among the many journalists trapped in the police kettle while covering the protest that night.
Lindenfeld said when he initially told the police that he was a member of the National Press Photographers Association, he was told that it was too late to leave and was shoved with a baton.
According to Lindenfeld, he and other members of the press caught inside the “kettle” watched as police arrested protesters.
“Press were again harassed by being told to move to one side of the street then 10 minutes later to the other side of the street for no reason at all, but to scare us,” Lindenfeld told the Tracker.
After some time the police began releasing members of the press with press credentials, according to Lindenfeld. ”I was able to show them my membership to the NPPA and they released me from the kettle,” he said.
Around the time it was making arrests, LAPD issued a statement on Twitter that reads, in part, “As a reminder, members of the media are also to obey the dispersal orders. Members of the media are to use the designated media viewing area.”
At around 1 a.m. on March 26, the LAPD posted another statement specifically addressing the detainments of members of the press.
“An unlawful assembly was declared by the Incident Commander after the unlawful activity of individuals threatened the safety of the officers and all those present,” the statement reads. According to the statement, police declared the gathering unlawful in part because protesters were shining strobe lights at police, which can “cause significant injury to the eyes.”
The statement says members of the press were directed to identify themselves and relocate to a media area about 350 feet away from the crowd.
The LAPD statement notes that as individual arrests were made of those inside the kettle, police officers “learned that several credentialed and non-credentialed members of the media were part of the group. Members from the Department’s Media Relations Division were summoned to assist in identifying these individuals and they were released at scene without being arrested.”
The Los Angeles Police Department, which only accepts requests for comment via email, did not respond to a request for further comment.
The Tracker documents all arrests separately. Find all documented press freedom violations from the Echo Park Lake protests here.