U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Live 5 News producer in vehicle attacked during Charleston protests

Incident Details

Date of Incident
May 30, 2020


Was the journalist targeted?
May 30, 2020

A group of people hit and threw a rock into a stopped Live 5 News car carrying three journalists covering a demonstration against police violence in Charleston, South Carolina, on May 30, 2020.

The protest was held in response to a video showing a white police officer kneeling on the neck of George Floyd, a Black man, during an arrest in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on May 25. Floyd was later pronounced dead at a local hospital. Protests against police violence and in support of the Black Lives Matter movement have been held across the United States since the end of May.

The car carrying producer Allyson Cook and reporters Rob Way and Abbey O’Brien was driving through a crowd to get to safety because downtown Charleston was becoming violent, O’Brien said.

“We were in a Live 5 News car obviously designated as our station,” O’Brien told the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker. “People started banging on our windows and flicking us off.”

Demonstrations had started peacefully but turned violent as the night wore on, she said.

“Once it got dark, it turned into rioting; that was definitely not as many people,” O’Brien said. “I truly believe that it was just two different groups of people.”

While they were stopped at an intersection, members of the crowd began to bang on the windows of the car and then a rock was thrown through the back window. No one was injured.

At the time, the journalists weren’t sure whether it was a rock, tear-gas canister or an explosive, so once they got to safety, they all exited the car.

“We all jumped out and realized it was just a brick,” O’Brien said. “So, no one was hurt, which is good, but it was really scary.”

They continued to report throughout the night and made sure they didn’t leave anything valuable in the car. O’Brien said that, in a separate incident, people smashed out the front, driver’s side window of a different, unoccupied Live 5 truck. Both the car and the truck were out of commission for a few days, she said.

The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker is documenting several hundred incidents of journalists being assaulted, arrested, struck by crowd control ammunition or tear gas, or having their equipment damaged while covering protests across the country. Find these incidents here.

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