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

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]

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