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
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 August 18, 2017.

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