U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Pro-Palestinian protesters push Breitbart reporter out of UCLA encampment

Incident Details

Date of Incident
April 26, 2024


Was the journalist targeted?
REUTERS/Mike Blake

Students gather at a protest encampment in support of Palestinians at the University of California, Los Angeles, on April 25, 2024. The next day, protesters pushed Breitbart News editor Joel Pollak out of the encampment as he attempted to film.

— REUTERS/Mike Blake
April 26, 2024

Joel Pollak, a senior editor-at-large for Breitbart News, was obstructed from filming and pushed out of a pro-Palestinian protest encampment by several unidentified demonstrators at the University of California, Los Angeles, on April 26, 2024.

In a video published by Breitbart, a conservative news outlet, Pollak — who is filming with his phone and is heard but not seen — arrives at a “media check-in” point at the edge of the encampment, which was set up the day before by students and was surrounded by plywood barriers erected by the protesters.

The students, part of a larger movement on campuses across the U.S., are calling for the university to divest from companies tied to the Israeli military and to cut ties with Israeli academic institutions, among other demands, the Daily Bruin reported.

After identifying himself as a member of the media, Pollak is initially told by a protester that they are “not letting any media in today. … We had some chaos yesterday with media and counterprotesters and we’re just trying to keep it chill.” The journalist can be heard on the video responding, “It’s a public university, there’s a First Amendment right to freedom of the press. I’m going to walk through the encampment. You can arrest me if you want. But I’m entitled to be here.”

Pollak, whose responses were provided to the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker via a spokesperson, said that he was wearing his Breitbart press credential around his neck. “I really was just looking to stroll thru and film for 2 minutes,” Pollak told the Tracker via email.

The video then shows Pollak entering the encampment after donning a mask at the request of another protester. A few seconds later, protesters ask him to stop filming, saying, “We need people to consent” and citing the encampment’s “community guidelines.” Protesters then hold up scarves, hands and other materials to block his view of the encampment.

The journalist continues to walk around and attempt to film the encampment, but several protesters impede his progress. “I have the same right to be here that you do,” Pollak tells them.

After around four minutes, several protesters say, “Link arms,” and the group appears to surround the reporter. Both Pollak and at least one protester say that they’re being touched and pushed by the other.

Soon after, a protester is heard saying, “Push” and “Step forward.” The reporter responds, “You’re pushing me. I’m being assaulted by this group.”

The group then appears to form a semicircle around Pollak and gradually push him out of the encampment, chanting, “One, two, three, again.” As they near the entrance, several other members of the media can be seen filming the incident.

Pollak told the Tracker via email that he was “pushed and shoved a lot.”

The Tracker contacted UCLA seeking clarification of the university’s policy toward students limiting press access to the encampment, but its media relations office did not respond directly to the inquiry.

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