U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Independent journalist sprayed with chemical irritant while covering Seattle protest

Incident Details

Date of Incident
October 3, 2020
Seattle, Washington


Was the journalist targeted?
October 3, 2020

Independent videographer Scott Keeler wrote on social media that he was hit with a chemical irritant sprayed by a police officer while covering a Seattle protest on Oct. 3, 2020.

The Portland-based journalist was covering one of the many protests held in Seattle since late May in response to police violence and in support of the Black Lives Matter movement following the May 25 death of George Floyd. The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker is documenting assaults, arrests and other incidents involving journalists covering protests across the country.

The Oct. 3 protest began at night around 7 p.m. in Cal Anderson Park, in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. Demonstrators marched on Broadway, with some protesters vandalizing buildings with graffiti. In response, Seattle Police officers used pepper spray and arrested 16 people, according to the Seattle Times.

At 9:27 p.m., Keeler tweeted a photo of a camera covered in a substance, writing that he and Lewis had taken “a direct hit of mace while filming an arrest.”

Keeler, who did not respond to a request for comment, posted a video of the incident on Twitter about an hour later, showing Seattle police in riot gear arresting a number of people on East Denny Way, on the north end of Cal Anderson Park. About 10 seconds in, a police officer is seen firing pepper spray at a group of people, and the spray hits Keeler’s phone.

The Seattle Police Department didn’t respond to a request for comment.

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