Andy Mannix, the federal courts reporter for the Minneapolis Star Tribune, was struck with a crowd-control projectile while covering a protest in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on May 26, 2020.
Demonstrations began in response to the death of George Floyd, a Black man, the day before, after an officer pinned down his neck with his knee for several minutes, ignoring Floyd's repeated exclamations that he could not breathe. A 17-year-old bystander caught this encounter on video and shared it on Facebook, sparking widespread outrage.
On May 26, thousands of protesters gathered outside the convenience store where Floyd had been detained and marched almost three miles to the Minneapolis Police Department's Third Precinct. There, some in the crowd turned violent, lobbing rocks and water bottles at police. Others attacked parked police cruisers and the precinct itself, breaking a glass door, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Police clad in riot gear answered by setting off tear gas canisters, detonating flash bang grenades and firing rubber or foam bullets into the crowd.
One of these projectiles — tipped with blue foam — hit Mannix in the thigh.
Mannix, who had walked with the protesters to the precinct, told the Committee to Protect Journalists he was leaning against a tree a block away from the precinct attempting to post a video to Twitter when he was hit. Mannix was wearing a press pass, but it was not visible under his raincoat. He said that the police seemed to be firing these projectiles "indiscriminately" and that he did not feel as if he was targeted. CPJ is a founding partner of the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker.
The next day Mannix posted a photo to Twitter of an enormous, colorful bruise that had spread across the inner part of his upper left thigh.
The tear gas police fired was so thick that "you couldn't see your hands in front of your face for a couple square blocks," Mannix told CPJ.
Most protesters in the crowd were wearing face masks to prevent the spread and transmission of coronavirus. "If you can imagine like 2,000 people in a pretty condensed crowd, and then all of them coughing because they're just getting annihilated by this tear gas, you probably couldn't have a worse situation in terms of the pandemic," Mannix said.
A request for comment sent to Minneapolis Police Department Public Information Officer John Elder was not answered as of press time.
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.