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Journalist demands response as to why she was shot with projectile when her press gear was visible

May 30, 2020

Independent journalist Sarah Belle Lin was shot with a less-lethal round by a law enforcement officer while documenting protests in Oakland, California, on May 30, 2020.

Protests that began in Minnesota on May 26 have spread across the country, 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.

Lin told the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker that she was documenting protests in downtown Oakland at around 11:30 p.m. A group of protesters confronted a line of officers who stood at a distance from them; the protesters complied when officers ordered them to disperse.

In a video by Lin posted to Twitter, a handful of demonstrators can be seen walking away from the law enforcement line. Suddenly — and after it appears many protesters had left the area — an officer shoots a crowd control munition at Lin. She told the Tracker she believes the officers were with the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office.

“I’m a journalist! I’m a journalist!” Lin can be heard shouting in the video. “You just hit a fucking journalist!”

“As I crossed the street to get a different vantage point, I was shot in my right inner thigh by a projectile,” Lin told the Tracker. “I instantly fell to the ground upon impact and yelled out that I am a journalist.”

Shortly after Lin had moved to the sidewalk to catch her breath and compose herself, she said the officers continued to shove her forward with their riot shields.

In a video posted to Twitter, she confronts the line of officers. She told the Tracker that she demanded to know the identity of the officer who had shot her and the decision behind it when both her press pass and DSLR camera were visible around her neck. The officers did not respond, she said.

“I’m not fully recovered but healing gradually and still documenting every night since,” Lin said.

A photo Lin posted 12 hours after the incident shows a large, multicolored bruise forming over much of her thigh.

The Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office did not immediately respond to request for comment.

The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker is documenting several hundred total incidents of journalists assaulted, arrested, struck by crowd control ammunition or tear gas or had their equipment damaged while covering protests across the country related to the death of George Floyd while in police custody. Find all cases here.

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

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