U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Journalists in Phoenix tear-gassed while covering protest

Incident Details

REUTERS/Sandy Huffaker

Police officials lob tear gas to try and disperse demonstrators after a Donald Trump campaign rally on Aug. 22, 2017, in Phoenix, Arizona.

— REUTERS/Sandy Huffaker
August 22, 2017

Seventeen Arizona Republic journalists were exposed to tear gas or pepper spray while covering anti-Trump protests on Aug. 22, 2017, in Phoenix, Arizona, according to Republic editor Nicole Carroll.

Reporter Laura Gomez and photographers Rob Schumacher and Jason Pohl told Carroll about their experiences reporting on the protests.

“The air around me was thin with that layer of tear gas,” Gomez said. “The skin around my mouth and nose started to burn badly.”

“As parents with kids rushed away, we moved in,” Schumacher said. “I kept shooting until I couldn’t see any longer. Coughing and gagging, I rushed my way up Second Street to the office to wash off and file. As we were filing, we heard the flash-bangs going off outside our building. So I went back to cover the action in front of our employee entrance.

“Some people in the crowd were immediately saying, ‘OK, time to go home,’” Pohl said. “Others were becoming more confrontational. By the time the crowd dispersed to the west, near the parking garage, the burning started in my throat and nose. I had goggles on, so my eyes were fine, but it was clear it would only get worse.”

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