U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Photographer pulled, struck while covering LA protests

Incident Details

Date of Incident
June 23, 2024


Was the journalist targeted?

Independent videographers Justin Jun and Sean Beckner-Carmitchel, shown in circle added at center, were assaulted by multiple individuals while reporting on clashing protests outside a synagogue in Los Angeles, California, on June 23, 2024.

June 23, 2024

Independent videographer Justin Jun was pulled by multiple individuals and smacked in the head while documenting clashes between pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli protesters in Los Angeles, California, on June 23, 2024. At least nine journalists were assaulted while covering the violence that day.

The conflict began after the Southern California chapter of the Palestinian Youth Movement called for demonstrators to meet at noon outside the Adas Torah synagogue in the heavily Jewish Pico-Robertson neighborhood in west LA to protest the alleged sale of occupied Palestinian land in the West Bank, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Multiple journalists told the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker that scuffles, brawls and exchanges of pepper spray broke out in the streets nearby between the protesters and counterprotesters.

Individuals from both sides — including a rabbi and security volunteers from the Jewish community — attempted to intervene and prevent the violence from escalating. CNN reported that Los Angeles Police Department officers established a perimeter around the synagogue.

At 0:28 in footage captured from a helicopter by KCAL-TV photojournalist John Schreiber, a man can be seen kicking independent videographer Sean Beckner-Carmitchel’s phone out of his hand. Jun caught the phone, but when he attempted to return it the pair of journalists were swarmed by individuals Beckner-Carmitchel identified as pro-Israeli demonstrators.

“The crowd surrounded us, so I grabbed him (Jun) really close and gave him a bear hug to try to make sure that nobody can get us down on the ground and to protect my face and stomach and to protect my gear,” Beckner-Carmitchel told the Tracker.

Schreiber’s footage shows two men pulling Jun back while a third attempts to kick his video camera. One of the men who had pulled him into the street then strikes him in the back of the head with an open hand. Beckner-Carmitchel is also seen being punched multiple times while holding onto Jun.

Independent photojournalist Nick Stern steps in to attempt to stop the attack, but as the journalists move away from the crowd Jun helps keep Beckner-Carmitchel upright after an assailant kicks him in the groin.

The LAPD said in a news release that officers were investigating two reports of battery at the protest and that one individual had been arrested for having a spiked post. A spokesperson for the department told the Tracker via email June 27 that they have no further information.

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