U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Photojournalist arrested at pro-Palestinian protest in NYC

Incident Details

Date of Incident
April 15, 2024
New York, New York

Arrest/Criminal Charge

Arresting Authority
New York City Police Department
Detention Date
Release Date
Unnecessary use of force?
THE INDYPENDENT/Neil Constantine

Shortly after Neil Constantine, photojournalist for The Indypendent, captured this image of demonstrators marching across the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City on April 15, 2024, he was arrested and charged with walking in the roadway.

— THE INDYPENDENT/Neil Constantine
April 15, 2024

Neil Constantine, a photojournalist for the monthly newspaper The Indypendent, was arrested by New York Police Department officers while documenting a pro-Palestinian protest in New York City on April 15, 2024.

Constantine told the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker that he arrived to document the protest as demonstrators gathered in front of the New York Stock Exchange in Manhattan at around 2 p.m. Protesters then made their way toward City Hall and the Brooklyn Bridge. The demonstration was part of a national campaign to block roads on Tax Day to disrupt economies and pressure leaders into advocating for a cease-fire, The New York Times reported.

Police had blocked most entrances to the bridge, Constantine said, but a group of at least 100 protesters found a way onto the roadway at around 3:30 p.m., blocking vehicular traffic. Constantine said he followed the demonstrators to continue his coverage and was toward the back of the group.

Bicycle officers with the Strategic Response Group followed the protesters as they marched across the bridge, and when protesters began running to evade arrest, Constantine said he remained behind.

“Two officers on bikes pulled up and told me to stop and that I was under arrest,” Constantine said. “I wasn’t given an order to get off the bridge or disperse or anything, I was just arrested.”

Constantine told the Tracker that he identified himself as a journalist to the officers and that both his city-issued and National Press Photographers Association credentials were visible. One of the officers told him that he didn’t care and that he was trespassing.

The photojournalist was placed in zip-tie cuffs and loaded into a van with eight demonstrators. Two other photojournalists, Jon Farina and Olga Fedorova, were briefly detained by police after the majority of protesters had been arrested or had successfully climbed over a fence to the bike lane.

Constantine said he was then taken to police headquarters in Manhattan for processing. Throughout his booking process, he identified himself as a member of the press, which he said seemed to surprise some of the officers, one of whom asked, “Wait, really? Was your pass visible?”

“I ended up being let out first, or close to first, even though I wasn’t the first one in,” Constantine told the Tracker. “At the summons desk, when they were trying to get my paperwork in order, one of the officers told a higher-up, ‘Oh, he’s the one.’ And the other said, ‘He’s that one? He needs to go. You need to get him out of here now.’”

The photojournalist was released at approximately 7:30 p.m. with a summons for walking on the roadway. His initial appearance hearing is scheduled for May 3. Constantine said he was able to resume his coverage, filming as demonstrators were released and began protesting again.

Constantine told the Tracker that police aggression toward protests and the journalists covering them has ramped up in recent months.

“Since January, they’ve started cracking down on many aspects of protesting. They’ve started going after you if you don’t have a permit and start using a microphone and now also for being in the street,” Constantine told the Tracker.

The New York Police Department did not respond to a request for comment.

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