Independent photojournalist arrested for curfew violation in Los Angeles

June 2, 2020

Independent photojournalist Aaron Guy Leroux was arrested while covering protests in Los Angeles, California, on June 2, 2020.

Protests that began in Minnesota on May 26 have spread across the country, sparked by a video showing a police officer kneeling on the neck of George Floyd, a black man, during an arrest the day before. Floyd was later pronounced dead at a hospital.

Leroux told the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker that he was walking west on Sunset Boulevard with a colleague approximately 40 minutes after the L.A. County’s 6 p.m. curfew — which explicitly exempted credentialed members of the media — went into effect. He said that two Los Angeles Police Department officers had already checked his press pass and allowed him to continue reporting.

As they rounded the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Vine Street, where LAPD officers were arresting demonstrators, an officer asked if they were press, and they said they were.

“As we were exiting the scene, one last LAPD officer asked again, ‘You press?’’’ Leroux said. “I said, ‘Yes sir.’ He took a look at my credentials then grabbed my elbow and said casually, ‘You’re gettin’ arrested.’”

“I spent the next three hours getting arrested, searched, transferred, processed and cited for ‘curfew violation,’” Leroux told the Tracker.

Leroux noted that his camera bag was thoroughly searched by the officers, but he does not believe any of his photos were deleted. His colleague — whose identity could not be verified as of press time — was also arrested.

At around 9:45 p.m Leroux was released from police custody with a citation for curfew violation, a photograph of which he shared with the Tracker.

The LAPD did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

On June 8, Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey announced that she will not prosecute citations for violating curfew or failing to disperse, while Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Fueur said he would resolve cases involving peaceful protesters in a “restorative approach” outside of the court system.

The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker is documenting several hundred total incidents of journalists assaulted, arrested, struck by crowd control ammunition or tear gas or had their equipment damaged while covering protests across the country related to the death of George Floyd while in police custody. Find all of these cases here.

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

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