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Officer in Minneapolis points weapon at public radio reporters

May 30, 2020

An officer brandished a weapon at two public radio reporters in Minneapolis, Minnesota, even after they identified themselves as press, just after midnight on May 30, 2020.

Protests were held in response to a video showing a white police officer kneeling on the neck of George Floyd, a Black man, during an arrest in Minneapolis on May 25. Floyd was pronounced dead at a local hospital. Protests against police brutality and in support of the Black Lives Matter movement have been held across the United States since the end of May.

American Public Media reporters Madeleine Baran and Samara Freemark had spent much of the evening covering the protests outside the Minneapolis Police Department’s Fifth Precinct when they decided to head back to their car and go home, Freemark told the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker in an interview.

As they attempted to cross Nicollet Avenue, a formation of law enforcement officers appeared, blocking them from crossing the street.

Freemark described the situation as initially being calm, but suddenly “there was a switch that flipped.” An officer suddenly appeared next to Freemark and Baran and shoved a weapon inches from their faces while shouting, “Get the fuck out of here,” Freemark recounted. She said she was not sure exactly what type of weapon it was, but that it did not resemble a pistol and seemed designed to fire crowd control ammunition.

In a tweet recounting the experience, Baran wrote, “A Minneapolis police officer pointed a weapon at me at @sfreemark’s heads, while we were standing on Nicollet and 32nd covering the protests.”

“I yelled that I’m a journalist. He did not lower his weapon, so we ran. Calling it a night,” she wrote.

Freemark and Baran were unable to reach their car and had to walk home, Freemark said. An interview request sent to Baran was not immediately returned.

Minneapolis was under an 8 p.m. curfew that evening, but journalists were expressly exempt from it.

Freemark said that the police line they encountered included officers from multiple agencies, and she was unsure which agency the officer who pointed the weapon was from.

An email sent to the Minneapolis Police Department inquiring about this incident was not returned as of press time. Bruce Gordon, director of communications for the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, replied that before he could comment he would need to know if the incident in question involved a State Patrol trooper.

The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker documents journalists assaulted, arrested, struck by crowd-control ammunition or tear gas or who had their equipment damaged in the course of reporting. Find all incidents related to Black Lives Matter and anti-police brutality protests here.

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

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