U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Journalist assaulted while covering protest in Memphis

Incident Details

Date of Incident
June 12, 2019
Memphis, Tennessee


Was the journalist targeted?
Screenshot via WATN-TV

A person attempts to wrestle the microphone from WATN-TV reporter Rebecca Butcher during protests on June 12, 2019, following a fatal officer shooting in Memphis, Tennessee. At least two journalists were injured.

— Screenshot via WATN-TV
June 12, 2019

WATN-TV photographer Patrick Niedzwiedz was struck while covering protests over a fatal officer shooting in Memphis, Tennessee, on June 12, 2019.

U.S. marshals shot and killed Brandon Webber, a 20-year-old Black man, in the Memphis community of Frayser, sparking violent protests. In a Facebook post in response to the protests, Memphis Mayor John Strickland wrote that “At least 24 officers and deputies were injured---6 were taken to the hospital. At least two journalists were injured.”

Rebecca Butcher, a WATN-TV reporter tweeted that Niedzwiedz had been struck while filming the protest.

Butcher told the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker that after their third live broadcast for the 9 p.m. show, Niedzwiedz was still filming when he was struck in the side of his face by someone in the crowd. The video he was filming during the altercation shows a group of protesters pushing into the frame, and one attempting to grab the microphone from Butcher’s hand.

Butcher said that since Niedzwiedz’s eye was still to the camera he did not see who struck him. The blow did not break the skin and his camera equipment was not damaged.

Mayor Strickland’s media office did not immediately respond to a request for comment by the Tracker.

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