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New York radio reporter assaulted after reporting live from looted liquor store

May 30, 2020

Darius Radzius, a New York radio reporter, was attacked by an unknown assailant in Brooklyn, New York on May 30, 2020, shortly after finishing a live radio broadcast.

Radzius was covering the ongoing protests in Brooklyn for New York radio station 1010 WINS. Protests that began in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on May 26 spread across the country, sparked by a video showing a police officer kneeling on the neck of George Floyd, a black man, during an arrest the day before. Floyd was later pronounced dead at a hospital.

While Radzius was reporting alone, he told the Committee to Protect Journalists in a phone interview that he was near a group of reporters during the protests. The protest, one of many that took place across New York City on May 30, began at around 3 p.m. near Prospect Park and continued south to the Brooklyn neighborhood of Flatbush. Radzius characterized the protest as “largely peaceful” in a statement about the incident that he wrote for the police that he provided to CPJ. Radzius said in his interview and in the statement that he had a 1010 WINS microphone and people told him they liked the station and thanked him for reporting on the protest.

Radzius was carrying press credentials, but they were not displayed, he told CPJ. His 1010 WINS microphone flag was large and identified him clearly as media, he said.

According to Radzius’ statement to the police, a few hours into the protest, he followed a group of people who left the central location of the protest, thinking them to be protesters. The group and Radzius walked to College Wine and Liquors, a liquor store in Flatbush. Radzius witnessed a group of people loot the store, and filmed the entire incident on his cellphone for 30 seconds, before the store owner locked the door. Radzius tweeted a video clip of the looting.

Radzius called his editor at 1010 WINS to tell him about the looting and joined a live radio broadcast from the scene at 6:32 p.m. A few seconds after signing off, Radzius was approached by a woman who asked him who he was talking to, according to his statement. Radzius responded that he was talking to “all New Yorkers on the radio.” A few seconds later, Radzius says he heard a male voice shout, “Snitch.” Radzius was then struck from behind on the right side of his upper face.

Radzius does not know who hit him. A witness told him that the attacker was a man, and that he struck Radzius with an unidentified object.

After being hit, Radzius says he was “stunned.” He received medical assistance at the scene from a woman who identified herself as a nurse. He later went to the hospital. He sustained injuries to his face that required five stitches above his eye on the eyebrow. Radzius also has significant bruising around his right eye, and has injuries to his hands. He later tweeted photos of his injuries.

Radizus told CPJ that he thinks he was targeted for being a journalist. “What does a journalist do? They report on the news, and they didn’t like that I was reporting on the looting,” he said.

CPJ contacted the NYPD for comment and to ask if they are investigating the incident. They said there is a complaint report on file for assault and detectives are investigating.

The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker is documenting several hundred total incidents of journalists assaulted, arrested, struck by crowd control ammunition or tear gas or had their equipment damaged while covering protests across the country related to the death of George Floyd while in police custody. 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]

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