U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

New York Times reporter assaulted, cameras stolen and damaged amid Capitol riot

Incident Details

January 6, 2021

New York Times reporter Erin Schaff wrote that she was assaulted, one of her cameras stolen and the lens of a second broken by rioters as they stormed the Capitol in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 6, 2021.

A riot broke out as supporters of President Donald Trump marched on the Capitol, swarmed the building and broke inside in an attempt to disrupt the Congressional certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory, Reuters reported. At a noon rally held in front of the White House, Trump called on his supporters to protest the vote on the basis of unfounded claims of election fraud. According to Reuters, the building was breached at approximately 2:15 p.m.

Schaff, who did not respond to a request for comment, wrote in an account published by the Times that she followed the noise of protesters on the first floor of the Senate side of the building.

Schaff recounted that the single Capitol Police officer guarding the ceremonial doors to the Rotunda was rushed by the crowd, forcing open the door.

“I ran upstairs to be out of the way of the crowd, and to get a better vantage point to document what was happening. Suddenly, two or three men in black surrounded me and demanded to know who I worked for,” Schaff wrote.

“Grabbing my press pass, they saw that my ID said The New York Times and became really angry. They threw me to the floor, trying to take my cameras. I started screaming for help as loudly as I could. No one came. People just watched. At this point, I thought I could be killed and no one would stop them. They ripped one of my cameras away from me, broke a lens on the other and ran away.”

Schaff’s congressional press credentials were also stolen in the attack.

The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker is documenting multiple assaults, detainments and equipment damages from Jan. 6 events. Find those here.

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