U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Independent journalist headbutted, shoved at UCLA counteprotest

Incident Details

Date of Incident
April 28, 2024


Was the journalist targeted?

Pro-Palestinian protesters and pro-Israel counterprotesters scuffle during demonstrations at the University of California, Los Angeles, on April 28, 2024. A man headbutted and shoved journalist Sean Beckner-Carmitchel while he was covering the clash.

April 28, 2024

Independent videographer Sean Beckner-Carmitchel was headbutted and pushed by a man while reporting on a pro-Israeli counterprotest to the pro-Palestinian encampment at the University of California, Los Angeles, on April 28, 2024.

UCLA’s student newspaper, the Daily Bruin, reported that protesters had erected the encampment on campus April 25 to call for a cease-fire in the Israel-Gaza war and demand that the UC system divest from companies that invest in weapons manufacturers for the Israeli military.

A large, pro-Israeli counterprotest was organized next to the encampment, with barricades erected to separate the groups, Reuters reported. Some demonstrators broke through the barrier, however, and individuals from both sides began pushing one another and shouting insults and chants.

Beckner-Carmitchel told the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker that he was reporting on the clash between the two protests when he captured photos of a man who appeared to be a counterprotester. When the man noticed he had been photographed, he demanded that the journalist delete the images.

“Generally my policy is, if someone asks me to delete a photo, I’m doing quite the opposite: I’m favoriting that, I’m sending it to a couple of people and it’s probably going to end up being published,” Beckner-Carmitchel said.

In footage of the incident, the man headbutts Beckner-Carmitchel before someone wearing a neon vest steps between them. When Beckner-Carmitchel moves to walk away, the man pursues him, asking repeatedly, “What are you doing?”

“Just doing my job,” Beckner-Carmitchel responds.

Beckner-Carmitchel told the Tracker that the man repeatedly told him to delete the picture, pushed him and attempted to grab the phone from his hands. He said that ultimately it appeared that individuals from both protests helped remove the man.

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