- Date of Incident
- July 12, 2018
- Washington, District of Columbia
- Will Sommer (The Daily Beast)
- Private individual
- Was the journalist targeted?
While sitting near the set of a controversial anti-abortion movie filming in Washington, D.C., on July 12, 2018, Daily Beast reporter Will Sommer had his notes stolen and then ripped apart by a member of the movie’s crew.
On July 6, the Daily Beast published an article about the controversy over the movie “Roe v. Wade,” an extreme anti-abortion film. On July 12, “Roe v. Wade” was filming in Washington, D.C. and Sommer was sitting nearby taking notes, when he was approached by a crewmember.
“But as the cameras rolled, a man later identified by police as a member of the crew came over to where I was sitting in public space with a group of tourists and grabbed my notepad out of my hand by force,” Sommer wrote in a Daily Beast article about the incident.
The man then hid Sommer’s notes in his pocket and began walking away, refusing to return the notepad. After Sommer followed him, the man ripped out some of the pages and crumpled them, before returning the rest of the notepad to Sommer.
Sommer called the police, and the man handed over the crumpled notes when police searched him. But police declined to arrest the man.
“The officer declined to stop the man, reveal his name, file an incident report, or talk to other members of the crew, insisting that the problem had already been solved,” Sommer wrote in the Daily Beast article.
One of the actors on the "Roe v. Wade" set told Sommer that the theft of his notes was a response to critical media coverage of the film.
"The movie’s been under great attack," Sommer recalled the actor telling him. “Sometimes we grab, sometimes we talk to you."
Sommer told Freedom of the Press Foundation that his notepad had included notes about multiple stories, some of which were not related to the “Roe v. Wade” movie.
The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker catalogues press freedom violations in the United States. Email tips to [email protected]