U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Journalist hit with flash-bang grenade while covering Brooklyn Center protest

Incident Details

Date of Incident
April 16, 2021


Was the journalist targeted?
April 16, 2021

Brad Svenson, a Minnesota-based journalist who runs the social media outlet Watchdog Citizen News, said he was hit with a flash-bang grenade fired by a Minnesota State Patrol trooper while covering a protest in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota on April 16, 2021.

Several hundred protesters marched to the Brooklyn Center Police Department in response to the fatal shooting of 20-year-old Daunte Wright, a Black man, by a white police officer during a traffic stop. Wright’s death, on April 11, occurred as a former police officer in nearby Minneapolis was on trial in the death of George Floyd, rekindling a wave of protests against racial injustice and police brutality that had started nearly a year earlier.

Svenson, who videos and live-streams protests, told the Tracker he was in an intersection near the police station shortly after 9 p.m. Law enforcement had deployed a few flash-bang grenades on the crowd, he said.

Svenson said he was standing in a gap in the crowd when a flash-bang came in his direction from behind a fence that surrounded the police station.

In a video Svenson posted on YouTube, a law enforcement officer can be heard announcing a dispersal order. As the camera pans around the crowd of protesters, an explosion like a firework can be seen along with a loud bang.

Svenson told the Tracker the grenade hit him on his right shin, about six inches below his knee, and detonated.

“It was a big enough explosion to rattle me pretty good,” Svenson said.

Svenson said he continued to cover the protest after he was hit. He said he had a patch of skin that looked like a sunburn, and he felt a burning sensation on his leg for about a week and a half.

Svenson told the Tracker he feels that he was targeted because he was a journalist. He said he had the word “press” marked on his vest and helmet. He also displayed press identification, which he made himself, and was carrying a large camera rig on his shoulder.

Svenson said he believes the flash-bang grenade was fired by a Minnesota State Patrol trooper. MSP didn’t respond to a request for comment.

The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker documents journalists being assaulted, arrested, struck by crowd-control ammunition or tear gas, or who had their equipment damaged in the course of reporting. Find all incidents related to Black Lives Matter and anti-police brutality protests here.

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