U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

KMTV reporter detained and zip-tied by National Guard while covering Omaha protest

Incident Details

Date of Incident
June 1, 2020
Omaha, Nebraska

Arrest/Criminal Charge

Arresting Authority
National Guard
Unnecessary use of force?
June 1, 2020

Kent Luetzen, a reporter for Omaha-metro area CBS affiliate KMTV, said he was briefly detained by National Guard officers while covering a June 1, 2020 protest in Omaha, Nebraska, against police violence.

Protests against police violence had spread across the country following the May 25 death of George Floyd. On June 1, demonstrations in Omaha also protested a decision by Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine to not charge a white bar owner, who had shot and killed 22-year-old Black man James Scurlock two days earlier, according to the Omaha World-Herald.

After an 8 p.m. curfew went into effect June 1, the Omaha World-Herald reported that at least 150 protesters remained on downtown streets. According to Mayor Jean Stothert's proclamation, as reported by WOWT 6 News, members of the media were exempt from the curfew.

Luetzen told the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker that he and his colleague, Maya Saenz, were covering protests at Howard Street and South 13th Street when they were aggressively confronted by National Guard officers. In a video posted to Twitter at 9:07 p.m., both reporters repeatedly scream, "We are media! We are media!" as a National Guard officer grabs Luetzen.

Luetzen told the Tracker he was briefly put into zip-ties even though he had his press credentials hanging around his neck and a KMTV logo on his hat. He said he was released shortly after the Guard officer verified his identity.

According to Luetzen, reporter Saenz was told to leave, but not zip-tied. At the same time on the same block, one of their colleagues, Jon Kipper, was tackled and also briefly detained.

Approximately half an hour later, Luetzen and Saenz were both briefly detained by Omaha police.

The Nebraska National Guard did not respond to a request for comment.

The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker is documenting assaults, arrests and other incidents involving journalists covering protests across the country.

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