Independent journalist shoved by police during LA protest

March 13, 2021

Independent journalist Tina-Desiree Berg was shoved by a police officer while documenting protests in Los Angeles, California, on March 13, 2021.

Protesters had gathered in Hollywood to mark the first anniversary of the fatal police shooting of Breonna Taylor, a Black woman, in Louisville, Kentucky. The protest was one in a surge of demonstrations against police brutality and in support of the Black Lives Matter movement that have been held since May 2020. The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker is documenting assaults, arrests and other incidents involving journalists covering protests across the country.

Los Angeles Police Department officers and protesters engaged in a tense standoff at the intersection of Vine Street and Lexington Avenue at approximately 9:30 p.m., the Los Angeles Times reported.

Berg told the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker she had caught up to the crowd as individuals began throwing water bottles and other objects toward police and the officers were pushing the crowd back in response.

“As I was filming this, one of the officers came up to me and started pushing and shoving me down,” Berg said. “One of the activists — I don’t know her name — said to the LAPD officer, ‘Stop pushing her, she’s press, she’s not one of us, she’s press.’ Next thing I know they’ve jumped on this protester and pinned her to the ground and they arrested her for this.”

Berg continued to try to film the arrest near the northeast corner of the intersection, according to footage she published with the online outlet Status Coup, which describes itself as a progressive media company. A second officer approached her and other members of the press. In the footage, the officer can be heard saying, “You are interfering with our ability to see what is going on. Can you please back up a few feet.”

In a clip captured by independent videographer Sean Beckner-Carmitchel, a different LAPD officer can be seen shoving someone — identified by Beckner-Carmitchel as Berg — backward.

Immediately after, an individual can be heard asking the officer, “What’s your problem?” The officer responds, “Don’t put the light in my face!”

Berg confirmed to the Tracker that the officer had pushed her, adding she has footage of the officer’s hand coming at her camera lens. She added that she often has found officers to be more hostile to the press when the journalists are filming.

At a protest 10 days later, another LAPD officer confronted Berg about the light on her camera and then struck her camera lens and then jabbed her in the abdomen with a baton.

Berg said she was wearing press credentials on a lanyard around her neck, including one issued by the Los Angeles Press Club and another that identified her as a journalist for Status Coup.

The Los Angeles Police Department didn’t respond to an emailed request for comment.

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

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