U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Photographer held in multiple kettles by LA police while covering Wi Spa protest

Incident Details

July 17, 2021

Freelance photographer Joey Scott said he and other members of the media were twice corralled and stopped from moving by police as they covered a protest in Los Angeles on July 17, 2021.

Scott said and other journalists were reporting on protests around the Wi Spa when they were held by police using a crowd-control technique called kettling, which corrals and restricts people from dispersing. The spa, located in LA’s Koreatown, became a flashpoint for anti-transgender demonstrators as the result of a viral video which police are now treating as a hoax, Slate reported.

In the first kettle, Scott and other media were told by the Los Angeles Police Department they would be arrested, but were later let go, he told the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker. “They wouldn't let us disperse out of the kettle despite telling them this is where we were told to go.”

In the second kettle they were told by a police officer that they had been there all day and refused to leave, so they were being arrested.

Scott said he was wearing press identification and a helmet with PRESS on it.

“Media was threatened with arrest initially but we were able to convince someone else to let us out with our press credentials,” he told the Tracker.

An LAPD spokesperson said arrests had been made on July 17 around Rampart Boulevard and Wilshire Boulevard after people failed to leave the area following a dispersal order.

“We do not have information specific to Joey Scott or statements being made that media would be arrested, so we are unable to confirm it occurred.”

This article was updated to remove a tweet that referenced a different detainment. The Tracker also documented the kettling and detainment of Scott while he covered a protest around the eviction of a homeless encampment in Los Angeles in March.

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