Photojournalist assaulted while covering aftermath of protests in Chicago

June 1, 2020

Ken Bedford, a veteran photographer and cameraman for the television station ABC 7 Chicago, reported that he was assaulted by an unidentified individual on June 1, 2020, while covering damage left in the wake of protests and looting in the South Shore neighborhood.

The protests were held in response to a video showing a white police officer kneeling on the neck of George Floyd, a Black man, during an arrest in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on May 25. Floyd was pronounced dead at a local hospital. Protests against police brutality and in support of the Black Lives Matter movement have been held across the U.S. since the end of May.

On the afternoon of June 1, Bedford and ABC7 reporter Leah Hope were preparing to report on clean-up efforts in the aftermath of looting the night before. They were at a strip mall at the intersection of 75th and Stony Island streets. Suddenly, Bedford was attacked from behind and knocked to the ground by an unidentified man, Bedford told WTTW, Chicago’s PBS station. Bedford said he didn’t see the man approaching.

He “shouldered me and thrusted me forward into the camera and then ultimately to the ground,” Bedford told WTTW. “And then he ran off.”

Bedford, who did not respond to emailed requests for comment, wrote in a Facebook post the following day that his camera and tripod had helped break his fall, but that he scraped his knee and bruised his elbow.

According to Bedford’s Facebook post, the photojournalist got up and began to pursue his assailant, but the man had joined a “few more men, who were talking among themselves and looking in my direction,” he wrote. “As they started walking towards me, I decided then it was no longer safe for us and I took the camera off the tripod, lowered the tripod slowly and placed them in my car, got in and drove off slowly.”

ABC7 did not respond to Tracker calls or emails for comment but published that it reported the incident to the police.

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

The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker is documenting several hundred incidents of journalists assaulted, arrested, struck by crowd control ammunition or tear gas or had their equipment damaged while covering Black Lives Matter protests across the country. Find these incidents here.

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

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