Parent accosts Michigan journalist after school board meeting

August 2, 2021

Reporter Eric Baerren was attacked by a parent who wanted him to delete photos from his camera on Aug. 2, 2021, after covering a school board meeting, he told the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker.

Baerren told the Tracker that the school board at Mount Pleasant High School in Mount Pleasant, Michigan, had been discussing wearing masks in school and he had been covering the story for the Mount Pleasant Morning Sun and taking photographs.

He told the Tracker that after the meeting, at about 9 p.m., a man approached him while he was packing up his equipment in front of the school auditorium and asked if he'd taken photos of his daughter during the public comment period.

“I told him I didn't know and he asked me if I'd go through my camera to check. I told him I wasn't going to do that and that if I did, it was while his daughter was giving public comment during a public meeting. He told me that he'd asked me nicely, which I took as an implied threat.”

The parent then “tried to grab my phone out of my hand and kick my camera away from my grasp. From behind me, I heard the district superintendent call for the police, so I got my equipment and stood up to wait for them.”

“Then the man indicated that he wouldn't let me leave until I complied with his wishes, and I then pointed my thumb to the approaching officer.” An officer from the Mount Pleasant Police Department’s Youth Services Unit was on scene, and he responded quickly.

Baerren said that the officer took them into the lobby, and after a brief investigation asked the reporter if he wanted to file assault charges. He declined, and two more officers kept the parent in a corner until Baerren could leave.

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

Related Incidents

Reporter shoved, punched during anti-mask demonstration in Traverse City, Michigan

August 26, 2021
Traverse City Record-Eagle reporter Brendan Quealy was shoved to the ground and punched in the face while covering an anti-mask demonstration near Traverse City, Michigan, on Aug. 26, 2021.Quealy told the Record-Eagle that he arrived at the Silver Lake Recreation Area at 6:15 p.m. to cover an event organized by a group called Citizens Liverating Michigan. When the event began, one of the organizers announced to the crowd of 80 to 100 that filming would not be permitted, and specifically …

Independent journalist harassed, equipment damaged at LA anti-vaccine rally

September 18, 2021
Independent videographer and photographer Emily Molli was assaulted while gathering footage of an anti-vaccine rally outside Los Angeles City Hall in California on Sept. 18, 2021.Molli told the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker she was doused with an oily substance and her camera equipment was damaged while covering what organizers called a “fight for medical freedom” rally.She told the Tracker she had not initially planned on covering the rally because of recent violent eruptions that have occurred at these events but …

Reporter assaulted during Miami anti-mask mandate protest

August 18, 2021
Danny Rivero, a reporter for south Florida’s NPR and PBS stations, WLRN Public Media, was assaulted after taking a photo of anti-mask demonstrators in Miami, Florida, on Aug. 18, 2021.Rivero, who did not respond to messages requesting comment, wrote on Twitter he was covering protests against coronavirus mandates outside the Miami-Dade County Public Schools headquarters. At 6:45 p.m., Rivero said he had just been assaulted by a man he identified as a member of the Proud Boys, a violent far-right …
More related incidents