Photojournalist arrested while covering Minneapolis protests

May 30, 2020

Freelance photojournalist Stephen Maturen was arrested alongside two other journalists while covering protests in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on May 30, 2020.

Multiple days of protests in Minneapolis and across the nation were sparked by a video showing a police officer kneeling on the neck of George Floyd, a black man, during an arrest on May 25. Floyd was later pronounced dead at a hospital. The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker documents all arrests separately. Find arrests of journalists covering protests related to the death of George Floyd here.

Maturen told the Tracker that he had met up with fellow photojournalists at around 9 p.m. Approximately 10-15 minutes later, they were walking north on Nicollet Avenue toward 28th Street when they saw a “parade” of police cruisers driving to where the majority of protesters had scattered.

“[A police cruiser] stopped abruptly and a number of members of the Sheriff’s Department poured out shooting either markers or gas canisters at the handful of people on that block,” Maturen said.

Maturen — along with European Pressphoto Agency photojournalist Tannen Maurey and freelance photojournalist Craig Lassig — identified themselves as members of the media, and were initially told to keep moving.

“There was a moment where it seemed as though we would just be pushed out of that block, but then someone decided to call for us to be arrested,” Maturen said.

The photojournalists were all ordered to get on the ground face down with their hands out.

Maturen said that he was not injured in the course of the arrest and that things “were relatively smooth, all things considered.” He added, however, that when his hands were zip-tied he was still wearing his backpack, and officers cut its straps instead of redoing the ties.

Maturen, Lassig and Maurey were taken to the Hennepin County Public Safety Facility in downtown Minneapolis and cited with breaking the city’s curfew order, a misdemeanor which is punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 or up to 90 days in jail. The curfew order specifically exempted members of the news media, however.

They were in police custody for approximately two hours, and Maturen said that his belongings — including his damaged backpack and camera — were returned to him upon his release.

Neither the Minneapolis State Patrol nor the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Department could immediately be reached for comment.

The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker is documenting damage of equipment and multiple journalists arrested or struck by crowd control ammunition or tear gas while covering related protests across the country. Find all of these cases here.

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

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