U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

MSNBC reporter struck with projectile during live broadcast from Washington protest

Incident Details

Date of Incident
May 31, 2020


Was the journalist targeted?
May 31, 2020

MSNBC reporter Garrett Haake was struck with a crowd-control projectile on May 31, 2020 in Washington, D.C. while giving an on-air report on protests that broke out over the deaths of George Floyd and other Black people at the hands of police.

Haake was reporting live after 11 p.m. from I Street Northwest and 16th Street Northwest in downtown Washington on clashes between protesters and law enforcement.

During the report, Haake’s film crew captured images of flipped and burning vehicles in the area and a line of Metropolitan Police Department officers forming on the east side of the intersection, according to clips of the broadcast posted on Twitter and by Mediaite.

Numerous explosions are heard in the distance, which Haake describes as protesters letting off fireworks.

Haake then begins to move toward the north side of the intersection, telling anchor Katy Tur that “we’re going to make some moves here.”

“We’re going to end up in a place we don’t want to be in if we’re not careful, Katy. So...ah dammit!” Haake said on air.

The broadcast then turns back to Tur in the studio, who tells Haake to move to a safer location. But Haake is back on the air in less than a minute and tells Tur that he believed he was hit with a rubber bullet.

“I have some souvenir welts on my side to show for it,” Haake tweeted after the incident. “And sorry for cursing on tv. Those rubber bullets/pellets/bean-bags hurt!”

It isn’t clear from MSNBC’s footage of the incident whether officers from the Metropolitan Police Department fired the rounds that struck Haake. A department spokeswoman said she couldn’t confirm whether officers used crowd-control munitions at this particular time.

Neither Haake nor MSNBC responded to requests for comment. The Office of Police Complaints said it didn’t receive a complaint related to the incident.

The protest was one of many that erupted nationwide in response to the police killings of Black people including George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25, Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky on March 13, and others.

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 these 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].