U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Police shove journalist covering pro-Palestinian protest outside NYC campus

Incident Details

Date of Incident
April 30, 2024
New York, New York


Was the journalist targeted?

A screenshot from video of New York Police Department officers pushing back pro-Palestinian protesters outside City College of New York on April 30, 2024. Independent journalist Katie Smith was shoved by an officer while filming the protest.

April 30, 2024

Independent journalist Katie Smith was shoved by police officers while covering a pro-Palestinian protest outside a New York City college campus on April 30, 2024.

Smith, who covers protests and social movements in New York, was documenting a group of protesters visiting student encampments at five campuses around New York that day. When the protesters reached City College of New York in upper Manhattan, they were met by police at metal barricades and gates blocking access to the encampment, according to local news reports and Smith’s posts on the social media platform X.

At one point, Smith posted that “the situation at CCNY has rapidly spiraled out of control,” adding, “Protesters tried to break through the barricades which led to absolute chaos breaking out. People thrown to the ground and journalists (including me) were hit and shoved by officers in the melee.”

Smith detailed her encounter for the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker, explaining that she was standing on the sidewalk outside the CCNY campus and filming with her phone when protesters started moving barricades that the police had set up.

“Officers began grabbing and pushing protesters near the barricades when a group of Community Affairs officers moved in behind me and grabbed a protester. At that point, I intentionally backed up so I was not directly in front,” she told the Tracker. “Then, a group of Community Affairs officers moved in from behind and grabbed and surrounded a protester, which is when one of the Community Affairs officers shoved me hard directly in the center of my chest.”

Smith said she was “wearing my NYC-issued press credential around my neck, clearly displayed.” She added, “I believe I was just caught up in the protest for the most part.”

There were additional confrontations between police and campus protesters in New York that night, leading to several hundred arrests at CCNY and Columbia University, according to news reports.

In response to a request for comment about the incident and any measures the department was taking to protect the safety of journalists covering the protests, the NYPD sent the Tracker a video of a news conference held May 1 by Mayor Eric Adams, Police Commissioner Edward Caban and other police officials.

While the officials did not directly address Smith’s case, NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Public Information Tarik Sheppard and Deputy Commissioner of Operations Kaz Daughtry said press access needed to go through the department so that the media didn’t interfere with police operations or get mistaken for students or protesters.

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