U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Independent videographer detained while documenting LA reproductive rights protests

Incident Details

June 24, 2022

Independent videographer Sean Beckner-Carmitchel was repeatedly shoved and detained in a kettle alongside other journalists 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’s controversial ruling overturning Roe v. Wade that morning, which established that the right to abortion is guaranteed under the right to privacy.

The first protests in LA began outside a federal courthouse around noon, the Los Angeles Times reported, and continued into the night. The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker has documented the assaults of at least eight journalists in the city that night.

Beckner-Carmitchel told the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker he arrived at Pershing Square in downtown LA at around 2 p.m., and that the first hours of the protest were energetic but not destructive.

After a group of protesters were able to block the highway, disrupting traffic, Beckner-Carmitchel said the atmosphere shifted and the Los Angeles Police Department officers became more aggressive with the demonstrators and press. He told the Tracker that he was shoved by officers multiple times that evening, and that at one point an officer shoved a protester who then fell into him.

Shortly after 9 p.m., Beckner-Carmitchel posted on Twitter that police had detained him alongside protesters and other journalists using a technique known as kettling, in which police box in a crowd before typically conducting mass arrests.

The Tracker has documented all of the journalists detained in the kettle that night here.

Beckner-Carmitchel told the Tracker he was released at exactly 9:30 p.m., and that he believed they were detained for 30 to 45 minutes.

“A lot of what I saw was a flagrant violation of the spirit of [Senate Bill 98], if not the letter of the law,” Beckner-Carmitchel said.

In October 2021, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed SB 98, which was written in order to ensure the rights of journalists while covering protests or other civic actions, according to Spectrum News 1. The law states that “law enforcement shall not intentionally assault, interfere with, or obstruct journalists” and explicitly exempts members of the press from dispersal orders.

LAPD did not respond to a request for comment as of press time.

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

Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to include comment from Sean Beckner-Carmitchel.

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