Photographer struck in face with officer’s baton while documenting protests; lawsuit filed against NYPD

June 1, 2020

Documentary and news photographer Diana Zeyneb Alhindawi was assaulted by a baton-wielding New York Police Department officer while she was photographing police beating a young man in lower Manhattan on June 1, 2020, according to a federal lawsuit.

Alhindawi is one of five news photographers who filed a federal lawsuit on Aug. 5, 2021, “seeking to hold the New York Police Department [NYPD] accountable for its violation of their First Amendment rights.” The suit is being led by the National Press Photographers Association, of which four of the journalists are members, in partnership with Davis Wright Tremaine LLP.

According to the complaint, Alhindawi was photographing NYPD officers beating a young man inside a Foot Locker store at 440 Broadway that had been broken into, “taking a position near the store window and to the left of the security gate,” alongside several other photographers. When the photographers were directed by officers to move back from the window, they complied and shifted to the other edge of the sidewalk.

“Alhindawi was staring down at the tilted-up view screen of her camera, focusing on getting her shot,” when at least two NYPD officers charged toward the group of photographers, according to the complaint. One swung a baton at Alhindawi, “striking her in the face and splitting her lip open.”

“This is an unprovoked assault. It's one thing to order or request someone to move back,” Mickey H. Osterreicher, general counsel to the NPPA, told the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker. “It's another thing to physically assault someone for no apparent reason.” Osterreicher confirmed Alhindawi was carrying a camera and wearing a Frontline Freelance Register credential.

Alhindawi and the New York Police Department did not respond to a request for comment. The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker is documenting assaults, arrests and other incidents involving journalists covering protests across the country.

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

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