NYPD arrests, assaults photojournalist during protest

November 1, 2020

New York City police tackled and arrested photojournalist Chae Kihn as she covered protests in the New York borough of Manhattan on Nov. 1, 2020, according to a video of the incident and the general counsel of the National Press Photographers Association.

Kihn was covering a Make America Great Again demonstration near 10th Avenue and W. 24th Street when officers in New York City Police Department uniforms tackled Kihn to the ground, handcuffed and then arrested her. Some of the police action can be seen in a video of the incident that was posted to Twitter, and additional details were confirmed by Mickey Ostrreicher, general counsel of the NPPA, who said he had corresponded with Kihn after her arrest.

In the video, a man in plainclothes who was carrying a camera can be seen taking Kihn’s camera from the journalist as she was being handcuffed. A voice heard in the video tells police “She’s a reporter.”

Kihn was issued a Criminal Appearance Ticket for a violation of NYS Vehicle and Traffic Law § 1156A “Pedestrians on roadways” for disregarding sidewalks, according to Ostrreicher. Her court appearance is scheduled for Jan. 29, 2021, the NPPA general counsel told the Committee to Protect Journalists.

After reports of Kihn’s arrest appeared on Twitter, stating that police had arrested a journalist, the NYPD tweeted that “these reports are false” and that “all arrested individuals from today’s protests have been verified to not be NYPD credentialed members of the press.”

“I don’t have an NYPD [credential] but I have other news accreditations and have been working as a photographer for over 20 years,” Kihn told the news site Gothamist. “Just because I don’t have an NYPD badge doesn’t make me less of a journalist,” she added. “Why do the police get to decide who is a journalist and who isn’t?”

Kihn’s work has appeared in the New York Times, the art magazine Bomb, and the New York City news website The Village Sun, according to the online art publication Hyperallergic.

The NYPD did not immediately respond to CPJ’s emailed request for comment. CPJ is a founding partner of the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker.

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

January 22, 2021 Update

The charges against independent photojournalist Chae Kihn were dropped on Jan. 22, 2021, National Press Photographer Association General Counsel Mickey Osterreicher told the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker.

New York Police Department officers tackled Kihn to the ground and arrested her while she was covering a Make America Great Again protest in the New York borough of Manhattan on Nov. 1, 2020. Kihn was issued a Criminal Appearance Ticket for violating the “pedestrians on roadways” traffic law.

When news of the photojournalist’s arrest appeared on Twitter, the NYPD tweeted that “these reports are false” and that “all arrested individuals from today’s protests have been verified to not be NYPD credentialed members of the press.”

Kihn told The Gothamist that while she did not have NYPD-issued press pass, she has other credentials and has been working as a photographer for over 20 years.

Tracker partner organizations — including the NPPA, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, Committee to Protect Journalists, Freedom of the Press Foundation and others — submitted multiple letters to NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, Police Commissioner Dermot Shea, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office and the New York Attorney General’s Office on Kihn’s behalf.

Osterreicher, who was representing Kihn, told the Tracker via email on Jan. 22 that he had received word from the court that the charge was “dismissed in the interest of justice and sealed.”

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