U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Minneapolis Star Tribune reporter grabbed, ordered to disperse during Brooklyn Center protest

Incident Details

April 13, 2021

While documenting protests in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, on April 13, 2021, Minneapolis Star Tribune reporter Kim Hyatt said she was grabbed by a law enforcement officer whom she initially identified as a National Guard member and ordered to disperse.

Demonstrators had gathered that night in front of the Brooklyn Center Police Department to demand justice in the killing of Daunte Wright, a Black man, who was fatally shot by a white police officer on April 11. The Minnesota National Guard had been deployed to the Twin Cities for the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin — who was charged with killing George Floyd, a Black man, during an arrest in May 2020 — and arrived in Brooklyn Center in the hours following the shooting of Wright to assist police.

In a video Hyatt posted to Twitter shortly after 9:30 p.m., she reported that officers, whom she described as “the guard,” had come around the backside of an apartment building located across the street from the police department and “ambushed everyone” who’d gathered there.

“I was holding up my badge and they still grabbed me and told me to get out of here,” Hyatt said in the video, while displaying a large yellow “PRESS” badge issued by the Star Tribune. In the video she also tugged at her right shoulder, ostensibly indicating that that's where she'd been grabbed. Hyatt did not respond to an emailed request for comment.

When reached or comment via email, a Minnesota National Guard spokesperson told the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker that no members of the Guard left the fenced-in area around the police department.

“In other words, they were not in an area with crowds,” Public Affairs Officer Melanie Nelson wrote.

The Brooklyn Center Police Department did not immediately respond to a voicemail requesting comment.

Law enforcement had declared the protest an unlawful assembly before a curfew was due to go into effect at 10 p.m., Hyatt wrote in a subsequent tweet, and officers explicitly ordered members of the press to disperse despite journalists being exempt from the curfew order.

“Still a few dozen people here but most left. Some media remain,” Hyatt tweeted just before 10 p.m. “I’m done for the night after that.”

At a press conference the following day, according to her tweets, Hyatt asked Brooklyn Center Mayor Mike Elliott what he thought about law enforcement ordering the press to leave the area.

“Demanding the media to leave is absolutely, unequivocally unacceptable. I issued the curfew order and my curfew order permits the media to be there past the 10 o’clock hour. The curfew does not apply to the media,” Elliott said.

The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker documents journalists 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.

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