U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Journalist assaulted, camera destroyed while covering pro-law enforcement rally in New York

Incident Details

July 11, 2020

A multimedia journalist for FreedomNews.TV was assaulted by individuals and had her camera smashed while covering a pro-law enforcement “Back the Blue” rally in the Brooklyn borough of New York on July 11, 2020. The rally was a response to continuing Black Lives Matter and anti-police brutality protests sparked by the May 25 police killing of George Floyd, a Black man, by police in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

The journalist, who publishes under the name Oliya Scootercaster, told the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker in an interview that she had been walking in the neighborhood of Dyker Heights with two other photographers when a man from the rally approached and asked, “Why does the media show fake information?” Moments later, she said, another person shoved her into a tree causing abrasions to her left elbow. She tweeted a photo of the wound.

Scootercaster also tweeted a video from someone she identified as “the neighbor Zena P.,” writing, “The video filmed by the neighbor starts after they shoved me. She saw that happen and started recording.”

In the footage, a man can be seen grabbing the journalist's camera and swinging it at her, before it drops to the ground.

Scootercaster said on Twitter that the camera had “shattered,” and she told the Tracker that it had to be replaced.

Scootercaster said that police officers on bicycles, who’d arrived on the scene during the attack, initially refused to file a report, saying, “We didn’t see anything.” Once the bystander’s video was brought up though, they agreed, according to the journalist.

Following the rally, Scootercaster said her case was assigned to a detective with the New York Police Department. According to Scootercaster, he had not returned her emails or calls since July. The Tracker’s request to the department for comment was not returned as of press time.

The New York Office of the Deputy Commissioner, Public Information also did not respond to a request for comment.

Scootercaster said an assistant attorney general reached out to interview her about the incident. They have not responded to the Tracker’s request for comment.

In the aftermath of the assault, Scootercaster said she hopes for some sense of justice. “I just want to see that there’s accountability for people no matter which side they’re on,” she said. “I mean, it was very disheartening. I’m not on either side, I’m a journalist. I’m literally just documenting ... it was just unpleasant from all sides.”

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