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Photojournalist struck with projectile during LA protests

May 30, 2020

While on assignment for Reuters, freelance photojournalist Kyle Grillot was struck by an unknown crowd control munition when Los Angeles police officers fired projectiles at demonstrators during protests on May 30, 2020.

The protests were held in response to a video showing a white police officer kneeling on the neck of George Floyd, a Black man, during an arrest in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on May 25. Floyd was pronounced dead at a local hospital. Protests against police brutality and in support of the Black Lives Matter movement have been held across the United States since the end of May.

Grillot was documenting protests in Los Angeles as they continued past the city’s 8 p.m. curfew. Grillot told the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker that he was at the intersection of Hope Street and Olympic Boulevard, preparing to document the police advance toward protesters in the area.

“I positioned myself safely on a corner and held up my LAPD press badge,” Grillot said.

As officers opened fire on the demonstrators with crowd control munitions, Grillot said he realized that his position was actually putting him in danger and moved behind an electrical box.

“That’s when I felt it hit my thigh,” he said, adding that he believes it was a rubber bullet that struck him. “I ran around the corner and continued to take photos, continuing to try to make my press badge as visible as possible.”

Grillot told the Tracker that beyond a bit of bruising, he was not seriously injured and none of his equipment was damaged. While he does not believe he was deliberately targeted, Grillot said that the officers were firing indiscriminately.

“I’m left wondering what I could have done to make it any more apparent that I was working press,” he said.

The Los Angeles Police Department did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker is documenting several hundred incidents of journalists assaulted, arrested, struck by crowd control ammunition or tear gas or had their equipment damaged while covering 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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