Thomas Nilsson, a photojournalist for Norwegian outlet Verdens Gang, was targeted by law enforcement while covering protests in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on May 29, 2020.
Multiple days of protests in Minneapolis and across the nation were sparked by a video showing a police officer kneeling on the neck of George Floyd, a Black man, during an arrest on May 25. Floyd was later pronounced dead at a hospital.
Nina Svanberg, a reporter for the Swedish outlet Expressen, told the Committee to Protect Journalists — a founding partner of the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker — that she and Nilsson had walked with protesters up from the Third Precinct to the Fifth Precinct on the 29th. National Guard troops and police arrived to the area to disperse the crowd and enforce the 8 p.m. curfew in place.
At about 11:30 p.m., Minneapolis Police Department officers began indiscriminately firing projectiles and tear gas to disperse the crowd, Svanberg said. One hit her on the hip. She added that she crawled behind a car to avoid being hit again, but was caught in the tear gas. The Tracker documented Svanberg’s assault here.
Nilsson, who could not be reached for comment, wrote in an account for Verdens Gang that he was affected by the chemical irritant as well.
The journalists eventually met up in an alley where an Australian news team was sheltering with its security team.
It was there that Nilsson discovered that he had a red laser sight on his stomach, he wrote.
According to his account, he moved farther into the alley and waited for about 10 minutes. When he looked out to check whether it was safe, he found himself once again targeted with a laser sight, he wrote.
Svanberg told CPJ that both she and Nilsson were wearing press passes. Nilsson noted in his account that he also was carrying two cameras and was wearing a helmet and a gas mask. In the account he said that he is certain the police knew they were journalists.
The Minneapolis Police Department did not respond to multiple phone and emailed requests for comment.
The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker documents journalists being assaulted, arrested, struck by crowd-control ammunition or tear gas or who had their equipment damaged in the course of reporting. Find all incidents related to Black Lives Matter and anti-police brutality protests here.