NBC producer, group of journalists targeted in assault by state patrol

May 30, 2020

Minnesota State Patrol fired tear gas, pepper spray, and concussion grenades at NBC journalist and producer Ed Ou and a group of other journalists in Minneapolis on May 30, 2020, Ou told the Committee to Protect Journalists via phone.

The journalists were covering ongoing protests in the city sparked by the alleged police killing of George Floyd, a black man, on May 25.

Ou told CPJ that the journalists were standing apart from the protesters in an indented section of a brick wall when troopers assaulted them. Ou said that he held up his press badge and screamed “Press!” but the patrol continued the assault.

"We were very explicit about saying we were press and we were nowhere close to any protesters or anyone else," Ou told CPJ. "They kept on throwing concussion grenades at us. They came up to us and maced me or pepper sprayed me on my camera and my face."

Ou, who was videotaping the protest, told CPJ that he was hit in the head. He said he couldn’t see the weapon or projectile as his eyes were blurred by tear gas and pepper spray. He said he stumbled past law enforcement officers asking for help, but none provided assistance. Eventually, a colleague found him, he said.

Ou told CPJ he later went to a hospital and received four stitches in his head.

Ou said that troopers damaged his equipment in the assault. He said the XLR connector between his microphone and camera was damaged, one of his lens filters was cracked, and a UV filter is no longer usable. He said that he can no longer safely use his microphone because pepper spray reached the microphone through the windsock. His gas mask, he added, is now unusable even with a new filter because of the large amount of pepper spray that entered it.

CPJ emailed Minnesota State Patrol for comment but did not receive an immediate reply. It also called the patrol’s press center but was unable to leave a message because the voicemail box was full.

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.

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

September 28, 2021 Update

NBC journalist and producer Ed Ou joined the ACLU of Minnesota’s lawsuit against the City of Minneapolis and law enforcement following his assault on Sept. 28, 2021, according to an amended complaint reviewed by the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker.

Ou was struck in the head with and targeted with pepper spray on May 30, 2020, while documenting protests sparked by the death of George Floyd.

The ACLU filed the initial complaint on June 2, naming as defendants the city, Police Officers Federation President Lt. Robert Kroll, police chief Medaria Arradondo, Minnesota Department of Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington and Minnesota State Patrol Col. Matthew Langer, as well as two John Does.

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