U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Photojournalist, camera struck by officer at NYC protest

Incident Details

Date of Incident
April 23, 2024
New York, New York


Was the journalist targeted?
REUTERS/Jim Urquhart

At a demonstration on April 23, 2024, New York City police detain protesters who had demanded that the U.S. government end military support for Israel. Independent photojournalist Michael Nigro was struck by police while documenting the demonstration.

— REUTERS/Jim Urquhart
April 23, 2024

Independent photojournalist Michael Nigro said a New York City police officer smacked his camera while he was documenting a pro-Palestinian demonstration in Brooklyn on April 23, 2024.

The New York Times reported that hundreds gathered in Grand Army Plaza, one block from the home of Sen. Chuck Schumer, to protest against a final congressional vote approving $26 billion in aid to Israel and to call for a cessation of military support amid the Israel-Gaza war.

Nigro told the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker that the demonstration was one of the most peaceful he has documented. But while photographing the protests, Nigro said he saw an officer pull out his baton and moved to follow him.

“This officer came over and said, ‘Don’t follow my officers.’ I said, ‘I can be here, this is what this badge says I can do,’” he told the Tracker, referring to his visible press credential. “Then he just said, ‘Get away from me!’ and smacked my camera.”

Nigro said that his equipment wasn’t damaged, but that officers have routinely obstructed photojournalists documenting pro-Palestinian protests over recent months.

“The tactic of late with the NYPD and the press is to block us from covering it,” Nigro said. “They’ll stand in front of your camera and put their hands in front of it or just push you back and back. Or, the newest tactic has been taking the press and detaining them, sometimes flexy-cuffing them, and then letting them go.”

Nigro said such tactics are “extremely troubling” and that journalists covering New York City protests are banding together to watch each others’ backs and document police aggressions against them.

“The fact that some of these officers are getting all these complaints and — whether they’re allegations or substantiated — nothing seems to be happening except what I don’t even want to say is a slap on the wrist but more of a pat on the back,” Nigro said. “I feel that if you don’t hold them accountable it’s just going to get worse.”

The New York City 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].