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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.

American Public Media reporters Samara Freemark and Madeleine Baran 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 all of the sudden, there was a switch that flipped,” she said. 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.

“We were yelling, ‘We’re press, we’re press,’ but he kept shoving it in our face, yelling at us to ‘get the fuck out of here,’” she said. “It was dark, so shocking, and so unexpected.”

The officer did nothing to acknowledge that they were press, Freemark said, and, eventually, they ran away. “Every time we stopped, there were cops yelling at us,” she said. Freemark and Baran were unable to reach their car and had to walk home.

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.

After the encounter, Baran tweeted about the experience:

An interview request sent to Baran was not immediately returned.

The 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.

The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker is documenting several hundred incidents of journalists assaulted, arrested, struck by crowd control ammunition or tear gas or had their equipment damaged while covering protests across the country. Find these incidents here.

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

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