Kyle Dodd, a photojournalist with FOX45 News, was assaulted while on assignment with a colleague near downtown Baltimore, Maryland, on July 15, 2022.
The outlet reported that Dodd and reporter Mikenzie Frost were working on a story about “squeegee kids” — youths who wash car windows at traffic lights in exchange for money — and Mayor Brandon Scott’s efforts to help get them into stable jobs.
Dodd told the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker he had visited the intersection of President and Lombard streets the week prior to scope out the location. While most of the squeegee kids left when they noticed Dodd and his camera, he said one of the young men approached him and questioned why he was there. Dodd said he explained that he was a journalist and that he has the right to film in public locations.
Dodd said that on July 15 he set up his camera at the intersection to film additional b-roll while Frost conducted a Zoom interview in their vehicle before attempting to interview the squeegee kids.
“I set up probably about 100 feet away and started to get some shots of them, and as soon as they noticed me, the group of about a dozen of them decided to leave that intersection and go across the street,” Dodd said. “Then four of them broke off from that and started to approach me.”
Dodd said he set up a wide shot on his camera to ensure that if anything happened it would be caught on camera and then walked up to them in order to keep them away from the gear while explaining who he was and what he was doing.
In footage of the incident, the four young men can be seen walking toward the camera with Dodd in the center of the frame. The first of the squeegee kids to reach the camera — whom Dodd identified as the young man he had spoken to the week prior — appears to gesture at the equipment before saying, “This is ours bro, I ain’t gonna lie.”
Dodd said he picked up the equipment and tried to explain why he was filming, but his responses seemed to only escalate the situation as the young men told him that they did not want to be recorded. He was about to offer to leave the area when Dodd said one of the squeegee boys doused what he believes was a cold, sugary beverage on him and the camera.
“At that point, they think that they’ve sent their message,” Dodd said, “and then one of them, as they start to walk away, says, ‘Public space or not, stop playing or we’ll beat the shit out of you.’”
The photojournalist said the camera wasn’t damaged, needing only to be dried off in the car after the incident. Dodd added that he did not file a police report because at the time it didn’t seem serious, but after reflecting on it he realized how much worse it could have been.
“I really didn’t even see this guy even pull out a water bottle and throw it on me or anything,” Dodd said. “It could have been a rock, it could have been a gun, it could have been a lot worse. But at the time I really just wanted to get my job done, get the day done.”
Dodd said he and Frost agreed to leave the area and try reporting on a group of squeegee kids at a different intersection, where they were able to complete their piece.