U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Photojournalist struck by officer attempting to knock phone from his hands

Incident Details

Date of Incident
April 20, 2024
New York, New York


Was the journalist targeted?

Protesters gather outside Columbia University in New York City in solidarity with the pro-Palestinian encampment on campus on April 20, 2024. A police officer struck photojournalist Gabe Quinones that day when attempting to grab the phone from his hands.

— REUTERS/Adam Gray
April 20, 2024

Independent photojournalist Gabe Quinones was struck by a New York City police officer who attempted to knock the phone from his hands as he reported on a protest outside Columbia University on April 20, 2024.

Protesters at Columbia set up an encampment on campus on April 17 to call for a cease-fire in the Israel-Gaza war and divestment from Israeli-owned companies, inspiring similar demonstrations at universities and colleges nationwide.

Quinones told the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker that he was wearing his press credentials and working alongside other members of the press when police instructed everyone to move back from the university gates. Quinones said he walked backward to continue filming as he complied with the orders and that an officer became fixated on him.

In a clip Quinones shared on Instagram with the audio removed, the officer appears to order Quinones to get back before attempting to grab the phone from his hands or knock it to the ground. As he returns to filming, the officer again appears to order him to get back while pushing Quinones and another member of the press away from the advancing police line.

“At Columbia University I witnessed and filmed police as they became aggressive with members of the press trying to document the action,” Quinones wrote. “I watched as they deliberately stood in front of cameras and denied legal observers the opportunity to document a situation where the officers stormed through the middle of the group of peaceful protestors.”

The New York City Police Department did not respond to a request for comment.

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