Multiple journalists covering protests in Los Angeles assaulted
At least four journalists were assaulted by police officers while covering protests in Los Angeles on May 30, 2020.
Freelance multimedia journalist Lexis-Olivier Ray was standing at the intersection of Fairfax Avenue and Third Street documenting the confrontation between protesters and Los Angeles Police Department officers on Saturday afternoon when an officer hit him in the stomach with a baton. “Unprovoked and kind of out of nowhere, the police officer took the baton and jabbed it into my stomach, which sent me flying back a couple feet,” Ray told the Committee to Protect Journalists.
He posted video of the encounter to his Twitter feed:
Prior to the attack he had identified himself as a journalist. “I went out of my way to identify myself as a member of the press and kind of separate myself from protesters,” he said. Ray, who had two cameras around his neck, was not wearing a press pass at the time, but doubted that would have helped under the circumstances. The blow “came out of nowhere. It wasn’t a situation where I was being asked to show credentials or anything.”
The pain from the injury grew throughout the day but had dissipated by the next morning, he said.
Around 6:46 p.m., Cerise Castle, a reporter for KCRW, a Santa Monica NPR affiliate, was reporting at Beverly Boulevard and Fairfax Avenue when she reported being hit by a rubber bullet. She was holding her press badge above her head at the time, she tweeted.
In a statement emailed to the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker, Castle said the incident occurred when she was photographing a group of LAPD officers in riot gear who had just arrived in the back of an open truck.
“As I was snapping photos, the police descended from their vehicle and began pointing rifles at the crowd. People started to run, I held my ground and continued to take pictures. This is when the shooting started, without warning or prior order to disperse,” she wrote. “I screamed after the first gunshot, then pulled myself together and began yelling PRESS and removed my lanyard from my neck, and held it above my head.”
The rubber bullet that hit her arm above the elbow crease was fired by an officer with whom she had just locked eyes with, she added. As she ran away, she sprained her ankle and is currently on crutches.
Jintak Han, a photographer and reporter for the Daily Bruin, UCLA’s student newspaper, was wrapping up an afternoon reporting on the protests and trying to cross Beverly Boulevard to head back to his car around 7:15 p.m. when he found himself facing a police line that was clearing protestors block-by-block, he told the Committee to Protect Journalists via Twitter message.
Han was readily identifiable as a journalist, wearing a press pass, as well as a white helmet and a vest emblazoned with “PRESS,” and carrying three cameras.
Despite this, he said, an officer aimed his weapon at him, prompting Han to raise both hands in the air. He moved into an opening, and soon was standing “some distance away” from a group of four protestors who were shielding themselves behind a mattress when officers opened fire. “The rubber bullets fell short and hit the ground near my feet before I hid behind the mattress,” he told CPJ.
Samuel Braslow, a reporter for Los Angeles Magazine, was covering protests outside CBS Studios when his leg was grazed by a projectile fired by police, breaking the skin:
Braslow did not immediately return a request for comment.
A request for comment on these four incidents emailed to a LAPD public information officer was not returned as of press time.
The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker is documenting damage of equipment and multiple journalists arrested or struck by crowd control ammunition or tear gas while covering related protests across the country. Find all of these cases here.