U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Photojournalist dragged to the ground, arrested at NYC protest

Incident Details

Date of Incident
May 7, 2024
New York, New York

Arrest/Criminal Charge

Arresting Authority
New York City Police Department
  • Unknown
    • May. 8, 2024: Charges pending
    • May. 8, 2024: Charges dropped
Detention Date
Release Date
Unnecessary use of force?


Was the journalist targeted?

Equipment Damage


Photojournalists Josh Pacheco, left, and Olga Fedorova display press credentials following their release from police custody on May 8, 2024. They were both arrested while covering pro-Palestinian protests in New York City the night before.

May 7, 2024

Independent photojournalist Josh Pacheco was pulled to the ground, punched, kicked and arrested by New York City police while documenting a pro-Palestinian protest on May 7, 2024.

Officers had moved in to dismantle a protest outside of Manhattan’s Fashion Institute of Technology, the last campus encampment in the city, according to Gothamist. A separate group of protesters had marched from Union Square a mile to the campus in solidarity with the calls for a cease-fire in the Israel-Gaza war and divestment from Israeli companies.

Pacheco arrived at FIT just as police had erected barricades to bar access to the encampment, with hundreds of officers stationed on the street, they told the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker.

“Things were relatively calm and consistent: student protesters rallying, chanting on the side. Very little confrontation except from counterprotesters that were walking by,” Pacheco said. They said that things began to escalate only after police began arresting students at the encampment and loading them into a correctional bus.

As some demonstrators attempted to prevent the prisoner transport vans from leaving with the detained students, Pacheco said they heard someone say, “Take it to the street,” and assumed the protesters were preparing to march.

“I made my way to where the protesters were and, within 30 seconds of walking toward the protesters, I was grabbed by a sergeant or a lieutenant,” Pacheco said.

Pacheco posted footage to Instagram in which an officer with a bullhorn can be heard saying, “Let’s start making arrests here, guys. They’re blocking traffic, that’s it.” Officers then advance on the protesters, pushing and throwing them to the ground, while other police direct everyone to get off the street or face arrest.

In footage from Status Coup photojournalist Jon Farina, an officer can be seen at 0:45 pushing Pacheco backward as police detain a protester, and the photojournalist continues recording from between two parked cars.

Seconds later, an officer wearing a white shirt — typically worn by higher-ranking officers — is then seen grabbing Pacheco by the arm and neck and pulling them into the street before forcing them onto the ground.

Once Pacheco was on the ground, they said, officers punched and kicked them multiple times and dragged them across the ground, ripping their clothing and damaging one of their camera lenses. One of Pacheco’s lens hoods was also lost during the arrest.

“I kept saying that I was press. I was clearly marked. I had my press pass on me,” Pacheco told the Tracker.

Pacheco added that the officers were “handsy” while arresting them, and that an officer callously looked them up and down before saying, “Male or female? Just pick one.”

A second photojournalist, freelancer Olga Fedorova, was arrested moments after Pacheco; her arrest is documented here. Both journalists were transported to New York City Police Department headquarters at One Police Plaza, where they were processed.

Pacheco said that both journalists were released nearly four hours later, in the early morning of May 8, and informed that the arrests had been voided. They told the Tracker that they don’t know what the charges were before they were dropped.

Mickey Osterreicher, general counsel for the National Press Photographers Association, told the Tracker that while voiding the charges was a good step, the journalists should not have been arrested in the first place.

“While the NPPA is glad that some common sense prevailed by the NYPD not charging these two photographers with any crime, we are very concerned that they are perfecting ‘catch-and-release’ to an art form,” Osterreicher said. “The fact that they took two photojournalists off the street, preventing them from making any more images or transmitting the ones they already had on a matter of extreme public concern, is very disturbing.”

Osterreicher added that he and other attorneys involved in a 2021 lawsuit on behalf of multiple news photographers against the NYPD for press freedom aggressions had a scheduled meeting with the city and police on May 8 to discuss the historic settlement reached in that case. The settlement included extensive rules governing the NYPD’s interactions with journalists, and Osterreicher said they raised the issue of Fedorova and Pacheco’s arrests.

“From our perspective, they’re not living up to the terms of the agreement that we fought for three years to get,” he said. “We raised those issues with the city and the NYPD and we plan to have further meetings with them soon to avoid these continuing abridgments of journalists’ rights.”

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