A Los Angeles police officer shoved and kicked the writer and publisher of West Hollywood news outlet WEHOville while he covered a local protest against police violence on May 30, 2020, according to the journalist and the outlet’s reporting of events.
WEHOville’s Henry Scott told the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker that on that Saturday afternoon he was walking south on La Cienega Boulevard in West Hollywood at the intersection with Beverly Boulevard. As protesters moved east down Beverly Boulevard he walked along with them.
Scott told the Tracker he took notes and photographs as he followed the crowd toward a parking lot on Third Street west of Fairfax Avenue where demonstrators were holding signs and chanting.
“On the street, a police car had been set on fire,” Scott said. “A line of police officers wearing riot helmets and carrying batons and rubber bullet rifles stood at the edge of the parking lot watching the demonstrators, who were peaceful.”
Officers with the Los Angeles Police Department began advancing toward the protesters. Scott told the Tracker that he wasn’t wearing any press credentials, but identified himself as a journalist when they drew close. He also asked an officer — whose helmet identified him as Rodriguez — whether they were moving people out of the parking lot and why. Scott said he hadn’t heard a dispersal order.
Scott said the officer didn’t answer but suddenly knocked him to the ground and kicked him in the ribs on his left side. Scott had been taking video of that officer and others shoving demonstrators and shooting rubber bullets at their feet earlier that afternoon, he said.
Two others — multimedia journalist Lexis-Olivier Ray and visual journalist Chava Sanchez — also reported being assaulted by LAPD officers in the same intersection while covering afternoon clashes between demonstrators and police.
The LAPD didn’t respond to requests for comment.
“It took me six weeks to completely recover from that assault,” Scott told the Tracker, “which for the first few weeks left me in pain that required taking anti-pain medication and made it nearly impossible for me to bend over and very difficult to get out of bed.”
Scott said that he didn’t seek medical treatment because of concerns about catching COVID-19.
The protest in L.A. was held in response to a video showing a white police officer kneeling on the neck of George Floyd, a Black man, during an arrest in Minneapolis on May 25. Floyd was pronounced dead at a local hospital. Protests against police violence and in support of the Black Lives Matter movement have been held across the U.S. since the end of May.
The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker is documenting several hundred incidents of journalists being assaulted, arrested, struck by crowd control ammunition or tear gas, or having their equipment damaged while covering these demonstrations across the country. Find these incidents here.