U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Journalist Taylor Lorenz punched while filming aftermath of fatal attack

Incident Details

Date of Incident
August 12, 2017


Was the journalist targeted?
Taylor Lorenz
— Taylor Lorenz
November 3, 2017 - Update

Man who punched reporter at Charlottesville protest gets suspended sentence

The man who attacked reporter Taylor Lorenz while she was livestreaming an anti-racist protest in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August 2017 was given a 270-day suspended sentence and fined $209 on Nov. 3, 2017, according to court records reviewed by the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker.

At the rally, Lorenz caught footage of a man driving a car into a crowd of protesters, killing one and injuring dozens of others. While she was livestreaming the aftermath of the attack, according to Mediaite, 21-year-old Jacob L. Smith from Louisa, Virginia, punched her in the side of the head, tried to kick her phone away from her and yelled, "Stop fucking recording!"

After Lorenz and others called for the police, Smith was arrested, then released on a $1,000 bail and ordered not to have any contact with Lorenz. The Charlottesville General District Court sentenced him later on a misdemeanor charge of assault.

August 12, 2017

Taylor Lorenz, a journalist for The Hill, was punched in the side of the head while live-streaming the aftermath of a fatal attack on anti-fascist protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia.

On Aug. 12, 2017, Lorenz was covering an anti-fascist march in downtown Charlottesville. While using her phone to live-stream the peaceful march, she caught footage of a man driving a car at high speed into a crowd of anti-fascist protesters. The car attack killed one protester and left dozens injured.

In an interview with the Freedom of the Press Foundation, Lorenz said that as she documented the aftermath of the attack, a shirtless man came up to her and repeatedly ordered her to stop recording. According to Lorenz, she showed the man her press pass and said that she was a journalist, at which point the man walked behind her and then punched her hard in the side of her face. She fell down and dropped her phone. As she reached for her phone, she said, the man tried to kick it away from her.

"Stop fucking recording!" he yelled.

Lorenz and other bystanders called for the police, who spoke to witnesses and then took the man into custody. 

A 21-year-old Virginia man named Jacob Smith was arrested and charged with misdemeanor assault and battery in connection with the assault. He was released on a $1,000 bail and ordered not to have any contact with Lorenz. A hearing in the case is scheduled for Aug. 18, 2017.

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