U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Police aggressively seized journalist’s press pass amid Manhattan protest

Incident Details

Date of Incident
May 29, 2020
New York, New York


Was the journalist targeted?
Equipment Seized
Status of Seized Equipment
In custody
Search Warrant Obtained
May 29, 2020

Lachlan Cartwright, a then-reporter for The Daily Beast, told the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker that he was covering protests in New York City on May 29, 2020, when a police officer aggressively seized his press pass.

Cartwright told the Tracker in a July 2022 interview about the incident that he was asked by an editor to provide back-up to a colleague who was already documenting the Manhattan protest. The demonstration was one of many sparked nationally by the police killing of George Floyd, a Black man, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on May 25. The Tracker documented hundreds of 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 those incidents here.

“When I entered where the protests were in Union Square, there were cars on fire, it was just mayhem,” Cartwright said. “And the cops were very aggressively advancing on the protesters, but also kind of being super aggressive to journalists, including myself.”

The reporter said he approached one of the New York Police Department officers and had a back-and-forth with him about the fact that he was a journalist trying to document the protest and that the police’s actions were making it difficult for him to do his job.

After the exchange, Cartwright had resumed covering the protest when he suddenly felt a hard tug at his neck.

“A cop had actually ripped my badge from around my neck,” he said.

Cartwright told the Tracker that in his haste when leaving his apartment he had mistakenly grabbed a press pass he had been issued while working for a different outlet.

The officer refused to return the credential. Cartwright told the Tracker that, to the best of his knowledge, it is still in the police department's possession.

NYPD did not respond to emails requesting comment.

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