U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Independent photojournalist targeted with pepper spray amid Minneapolis protests

Incident Details

Date of Incident
May 30, 2020


Was the journalist targeted?
May 30, 2020

Police attacked dozens of journalists with rubber bullets, tear gas, and pepper spray on May 30, 2020, during protests in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Protests began in Minnesota on May 26, 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.

Half an hour after an 8 p.m. curfew began on the 30th, Minnesota state patrol officers fired pepper spray and rubber bullets at a group of at least 20 journalists including independent photographer Sait Serkan Gurbuz.

Gurbuz told the Committee to Protect Journalists — a founding partner of the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker — that he was covering the protests as a contributor to Zuma Press.

Gurbuz said police pepper sprayed him while he was holding his credentials and saying “journalist” as loudly as he could. Gurbuz said that he was wearing a respirator when police used pepper spray, but his hands and right ear burned for a day after the event.

More than three dozen journalists were assaulted, arrested or had equipment damaged while covering protests that night. The Minneapolis Police Department, Minnesota State Police, and Minnesota National Guard did not reply to emailed requests for comment about these incidents.

The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker documents journalists assaulted, arrested, struck by crowd-control ammunition or tear gas or who had their equipment damaged in the course of reporting. Find all incidents related to Black Lives Matter and anti-police brutality protests here.

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