U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Photojournalist covering DC protest 'decked' in face by police officer

Incident Details

Date of Incident
August 12, 2018


Was the journalist targeted?
August 12, 2018

While covering the Unite the Right II protest in Washington, D.C., on Aug. 12, 2018, freelance photojournalist Shay Horse was shoved against a police van and hit in the face by a police officer.

Horse told Freedom of the Press Foundation that police interfered as he and other members of the press followed a group of protesters, including white supremacist Jason Kessler, as they moved from Foggy Bottom to the White House.

“When we got there, police starting shoving everyone because they thought we were too close,” he said. “They shoved us up again the side and hood of a van. They kept screaming, ‘move,’  but I kept thinking, ‘where?’ There was no rhyme or reason to it. I was left to wonder what ‘move’ could possibly mean.”

Horse said that one police officer “decked” him in the face with his hand, making contact with his chin and the left side of his face.

“I was trying to take photos of Kessler,” he said. “Being shoved and hit makes that a little hard.”

Although the hit did not bruise, Horse said that his jaw hurt for days after the incident.

Horse estimated that a total of 10–15 people were pushed up against the side of the van, and that it seemed like all but perhaps one of them were members of the press.

Horse said that the Metropolitan Police Department used aggressive tactics against protesters and the press, adding that it seemed as though the police were preparing for a major confrontation that never materialized. 

“They were on top of protesters the whole day,” he said. “It seemed strange that MPD was so eager to kettle people.”

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