Independent journalist shoved by NYPD officer

July 25, 2020

Independent journalist Janet Burns said she was shoved by a police officer while covering a protest in New York City on July 25, 2020.

Burns said she was covering a demonstration that night in Lower Manhattan, at the corner of Delancey and Ludlow streets, for NYC Protest Updates 2020, a Twitter account set up by a group of young journalists after the May killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis sparked nationwide protests. The Twitter account has over 40,000 followers and provides regular coverage of protests and police activity in New York City.

“I was sending in pictures and describing what was happening,” Burns told the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker, while an editor for the account sent out the actual tweets that night.

According to Burns, clashes between demonstrators and officers had erupted throughout the night, and officers were blocking streets to contain the crowd. Burns said she saw several people tackled and arrested. “I could see that the police had some people among them, at least one of them was still on the ground,” she told the Tracker. Burns said that when she tried to get a better view of protesters held behind the police line, officers blocked her path.

“They didn’t want me to walk in their direction which was the edge of a kettle” she explained, referring to the term describing a common police tactic to surround and arrest protesters during public demonstrations. One of the officers told her that she could not move forward, so she waited a few seconds and asked another officer, who agreed to let her go. “I began walking that way but the [first] officer saw and became angry,” she said.

Burns said the first officer blocked her way, pushing his chest against her to knock her over. “He didn’t use his hands, he used his chest,” she said. Burns said she was not hurt and none of her equipment was damaged. “The guy was just being angry,” she said, referring to the officer who had pushed her.

Burns said she was wearing a press badge from the Freelance Journalists Union and another ID “that says that I’m a professional journalist.”

The New York Police Department did not respond to a request for comment.

The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker is documenting several hundred incidents of journalists assaulted, arrested, struck by crowd control ammunition or tear gas or had their equipment damaged while covering protests across the country. Find these incidents here.

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

Related Incidents

Independent filmmaker arrested while covering anti-ICE protest in New York City

September 19, 2020
Ronald Weaver II, an independent filmmaker, was arrested while covering a protest against immigration policy and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in New York City on Sept. 19, 2020.The protest, which began in Times Square, was prompted by a whistleblower’s allegation that immigrant women held at a privately run detention center in Georgia were forced to undergo hysterectomies. Weaver, a New York-based filmmaker, told the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker the protest was part of a broad protest movement against racial …

Reporter hit with wooden board at New York’s Occupy City Hall protest

July 12, 2020
A man hit a New York Post reporter with a piece of lumber during a demonstration to cut police funding at New York’s City Hall on July 12, 2020, the Post reported. The man was later arrested and charged with assault, police said.The weeks-long “Occupy City Hall” protests in June drew hundreds of people who pressed elected leaders to slash $1 billion from the New York City Police Department’s annual operating budget of around $6 billion. Dozens of people camped …

Journalist assaulted, camera destroyed while covering pro-law enforcement rally in New York

July 11, 2020
A multimedia journalist for FreedomNews TV, was assaulted by individuals and had her camera smashed while covering a pro-law enforcement “Back the Blue” rally in the Brooklyn borough of New York on July 11, 2020. The rally was a response to continuing Black Lives Matter and anti-police brutality protests sparked by the May 25 police killing of George Floyd, a Black man, by police in Minneapolis, Minnesota.The journalist, who publishes under the name Oliya Scootercaster, told the U.S. Press Freedom …
More related incidents