U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Photojournalist detained at Manhattan Bridge protest in NYC

Incident Details


Independent photojournalist Madison Swart, right, is seen being detained by New York City police officers on May 11, 2024, as she documented a pro-Palestinian protest on the Manhattan Bridge. She was released several minutes later.

May 11, 2024

Independent photographer Madison Swart was briefly detained by New York City police officers while covering a pro-Palestinian protest on the Manhattan Bridge on May 11, 2024.

Swart told the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker that she was documenting a protest that began in downtown Brooklyn but broke into separate groups following rounds of arrests by police. She said she and another journalist, reporter Katie Smith, continued with a group of about 100 people heading over the bridge toward Manhattan.

“The police weren’t going after anybody while we were actually on the bridge, so I figured, ‘Oh, they’re probably just waiting for us all on the other side,’” Swart said. “I remember texting a friend, ‘I have a weird feeling that I might get arrested when I get off this bridge.’”

As they neared the edge of the bridge, with Swart, Smith and a few other journalists ahead of the march, Swart said she saw the police moving toward the crowd.

“Immediately when they started coming toward us, I moved to the side so as not to be in their way. I was right behind Katie and they went straight for her: She was the first person that they detained on the bridge even though her press pass was clearly visible,” Swart said. “I knew I would be next so I tried to get in as many shots as I could before they arrested me.”

Swart told the Tracker that one of the same officers who had detained Smith informed her she was under arrest. When Swart identified herself as a journalist and asked why she was being detained, he simply replied, “You’re not allowed to be here.”

She said only one of her hands was placed in handcuffs before officers decided to release her, but they had to lead her down the bridge with one hand pinned behind her back to find someone with a key to unlock the cuffs.

“I think it’s a little disconcerting that they immediately went after the press. It’s our right to document a newsworthy event, that’s our job,” Swart said. “It seems that they wanted to stop us from taking pictures of the arrests that happened, both on the bridge and at other protests.”

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].