U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Videographer assaulted, detained while covering reproductive rights protests in LA

Incident Details

June 24, 2022

Independent videographer Vishal Singh was assaulted by law enforcement officers and detained in a kettle while documenting reproductive rights protests in Los Angeles, California, on June 24, 2022.

Protests broke out across the country following the U.S. Supreme Court ruling overturning the landmark case of Roe v. Wade, which had previously protected the right to abortion under the right to privacy.

Singh told the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker that when he arrived at Los Angeles City Hall shortly after 6 p.m. to cover the demonstrations, the crowds seemed relatively calm, despite hundreds of people already gathered.

As the crowds started marching in different directions, Singh said Los Angeles Police Department officers stopped him and two other reporters behind the protesters.

“I asked them if there was a media viewing area,” Singh said, “and we were eventually let go, but I get frustrated with even these momentary restrictions to access because things happen so quickly during protests.”

Singh told the Tracker that after officers allowed the journalists to continue following the crowd, he immediately saw a clash between protesters and police. He started filming the encounter when an officer approached him.

“He walked toward me, grabbed me by the shoulders, and shoved me,” Singh said.

Singh said he followed protesters for most of the night and saw police becoming increasingly aggressive. At one point, an officer pointed a crowd-control weapon at him.

“I started filming some b-roll from the sidewalk, focusing my frame when I heard yelling coming from the left,” Singh said, “and when I looked over, I’m staring down the barrel of a riot launcher pointed at my head.”

Singh said as he backed away from the area an officer noticed him filming and shoved him toward a crowd of people. Afterward, he noticed the press pass he was wearing on a lanyard around his neck had fallen off and was lost.

“I got up, and obviously, I was shaken, and at that point, all hell broke loose,” Singh said.

Singh said he saw police officers assault other journalists, including Tina Desiree-Berg and Samuel Braslow. Soon after, he realized officers were forming a kettle around him and other journalists and protesters.

“I continually asked the officers if an unlawful assembly had been officially issued or if there was a dispersal order,” Singh said, but to no response. According to Singh, he was allowed to leave after an officer read a dispersal order.

Singh was among several journalists assaulted or detained by LAPD officers while covering the protests. The Los Angeles Times reported that police officers repeatedly ignored a law signed in October 2021 that protected journalists from interference by law enforcement and expanded the rights of journalists covering protests during the civil protests:

“According to Times reporters, witnesses' videos and interviews with other media members on the ground, journalists were pushed, struck with batons, forced out of areas where they had a right to observe police activity and blocked from entering other areas where police and protesters were clashing and arrests were being made.”

LAPD Chief Michel Moore told the Times that the department would be investigating the complaints made by members of the press. The LAPD did not return emailed requests for comment.

Find press freedom violations documented by the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker at reproductive rights demonstrations across the U.S. here.

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