Photojournalist pushed by NYPD officer, struck with baton while covering protest

June 5, 2021

Independent photojournalist Gabe Quinones said he was assaulted by a New York City Police Department officer while covering demonstrations in Washington Square Park on June 5, 2021.

The park had been the site of both protests and street parties; Gothamist reported that for several months the NYPD had attempted to enforce the park’s largely ignored midnight curfew.

At the end of May, the NYPD said that officers, coordinating with the NYC Parks Department, would enforce a 10 p.m. closure of the park on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, according to Gothamist.

Quinones told the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker that on June 5, officers arrived well before the closure of the park and advanced on the crowds gathered there shortly before 10 p.m.

In a post on Instagram, Quinones wrote: “The officers had instructed us to stay on the sidewalk and that’s exactly where I was when I was attacked. He shoved his baton into my chest causing bruising so I told him ‘I’m press’, before I could pull out the badge he bum rushed me pinning me to a wall and shoving his baton into me further.”

At approximately 12:55 minutes into video footage from news agency FreedomNews.TV and filmed by @scootercasterNY, an NYPD officer appears to push Quinones against a doorframe and then take a baton swipe at him as he runs away.

“After [the officer shoved] me the first time, I sort of fell backward and I instinctively reached out for anything to sort of catch myself and so I grabbed his baton,” Quinones said. “That’s when he shoved me back into the wall.”

Quinones told the Tracker the officer who struck him never spoke to him beyond telling him to get on the sidewalk, where he already was. He said he filed a complaint against the officer and was contacted by the NYPD’s Internal Affairs Office to provide his footage and answer questions about the incident.

On July 6, Quinones said officers arrived at his apartment and arrested him on charges of grand larceny, alleging that he had attempted to steal the officer’s baton during the June 5 incident. Quinones said he was held for three to four hours before being released with a hearing scheduled for July 26. The Tracker has documented that arrest here.

The NYPD didn’t respond to emailed requests for comment.

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

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