U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Photojournalist hit in hand with law enforcement projectile at Brooklyn Center protest

Incident Details

April 12, 2021

Independent photojournalist Tim Evans was hit in the hand with a crowd-control projectile while covering a protest in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, for the European Pressphoto Agency on April 12, 2021.

Demonstrators gathered outside the Brooklyn Center Police Department one day after Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Black man, was shot and killed by a white police officer during a traffic stop in the city, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.

After a 7 p.m. curfew took effect, tensions escalated between protesters and law enforcement, and law enforcement later issued dispersal orders and began using rubber bullets, flash-bang grenades and tear gas to disperse the crowd, according to the Star Tribune.

Evans told the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker he was covering the protest as it continued after dark. He said law enforcement agents were deploying crowd-control munitions, including marker rounds, a type of projectile that leaves a colored mark where it hits.

Evans said he was photographing demonstrators as he stood with his back to the police station, about 20 feet from a gate in the fence that surrounded the building.

He said he was holding his camera to his face with his right hand to take photographs when a marker round hit the back of that hand.

Evans said the painful impact made him let go of his camera, which hung from a strap around his neck. He said he retreated from the area for a few minutes to make sure that he wasn’t seriously injured. The marker round left a green chalky substance on Evans’ skin, which he said he wiped off. Evans said he spoke with another photographer who has medical training to check whether the projectile had broken any bones in his hand.

“It hurt, but it was clear that no bones were broken,” Evans said.

Evans said he was able to continue photographing the protest that night. He had a bruise on his hand for more than a week after he was hit, he said. None of his equipment was damaged.

Evans told the Tracker he did not see which law enforcement agency fired the round that hit him. Multiple law enforcement agencies were involved in the response to the protests in Brooklyn Center, including Minnesota State Patrol and the National Guard, according to the Star Tribune.

Evans said he did not know if he was targeted, and believed the munition may have ricocheted off of something before hitting him, because he thought a direct hit would likely have injured him more seriously.

He had a “PRESS” label attached to his backpack, he told the Tracker.

Minnesota State Patrol and the state Department of Public Safety, which were part of a coalition of law enforcement agencies responding to protests in Minnesota, did not answer requests for comment. A spokesperson for the National Guard said the agency “has not used a single less than lethal munition in any of its responses to civil unrest within the last year.”

The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker documents journalists 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.

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