Photojournalist slammed into wall by police during Miami protest

June 6, 2020

Freelance photojournalist Sam Navarro said in an interview that was shoved into a wall by a police officer while he was covering a protest against police violence in Miami, Florida on June 6, 2020.

The protest was one of many across the country sparked by the May 25 police killing of George Floyd, a Black man, in Minneapolis. Navarro, who was photographing the June 6 demonstration for the Miami Herald, told the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker that the protest had been peaceful.

However, he said, at around 7:30 p.m., a large number of police officers confronted the protesters and declared an unlawful assembly. Navarro said most of the demonstrators left, but a few dozen remained.

Navarro was photographing the scene at the intersection of 107th Avenue and Eighth Street when one protester ran around behind him. He turned and saw police officers advancing rapidly toward him. An officer wearing a helmet and carrying a shield shoved him up against a concrete wall with a raised metal railing on the edge of the street.

Navarro said the officer let him go almost immediately after the impact, and he resumed photographing the scene.

Navarro said he later had a large bruise on his upper left arm from the impact. His two cameras banged up against the wall, but weren’t damaged, he said.

The incident was filmed in a video posted on Twitter by Herald reporter Joey Flechas.

Later, as police were finishing arresting demonstrators, another officer asked Navarro if he was alright, the photographer said. The officer said he tried to pull Navarro away so he wouldn’t have been caught up when police advanced, but that there wasn’t time.

Navarro said he was clearly identifiable as a journalist. He was wearing press credentials on a lanyard around his neck, and carried two cameras with him.

The Miami-Dade Police Department didn’t return a request for comment about the incident.

The Tracker is documenting several hundred incidents of journalists being assaulted, arrested, struck by crowd control ammunition or tear gas, or having their equipment damaged while covering these protests across the country. Find these incidents here.

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

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