U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Protesters harass, shine laser in eyes of Seattle video journalist

Incident Details

Date of Incident
May 15, 2024
Location
Seattle, Washington

Assault

Was the journalist targeted?
Yes
SCREENSHOT COURTESY KATIE DAVISCOURT / POST MILLENNIAL, VIA X

KCPQ news photographer Mike Harvey, right, had his camera blocked by an umbrella and a laser shined in his eyes while filming a pro-Palestinian protest encampment at the University of Washington in Seattle on May 15, 2024.

— SCREENSHOT COURTESY KATIE DAVISCOURT / POST MILLENNIAL, VIA X
May 15, 2024

KCPQ television news photographer Mike Harvey was harassed and had a laser shined in his eyes while reporting on a pro-Palestinian protest encampment at the University of Washington in Seattle on May 15, 2024.

Students erected the encampment on the Liberal Arts Quadrangle, the main gathering place on campus, on April 29, The Seattle Times reported, calling for the university to sever all financial ties to the Israeli government and to Boeing, which is a supplier for the Israeli Air Force. The encampment was cleared on May 20 after the students and the university reached an agreement.

Video of the encounter posted by Harvey on social network X shows the journalist filming on steps above the encampment when two individuals approach him holding open umbrellas in front of his camera, chanting, talking loudly and laughing. They also ask him what outlet he works for.

Harvey can be heard asking them not to touch his camera, and warning them that it would be a felony if they damaged the equipment.

The two briefly walk away but return with other individuals, one of whom can be seen shining a green laser at Harvey’s camera while he looks through the lens. In response, Harvey can be heard warning, “That’s assault, right there. It is assault to hit someone in the eye with a laser.”

A member of the group then shines a flashlight at the camera and another again blocks it with an umbrella, while shouting and laughing.

In a video of an exchange filmed by Post Millennial reporter Katie Daviscourt, another protester questions Harvey about his recording of the event, suggesting it put protesters in danger of being identified and doxxed. “This is public space, it's a newsworthy event and I have a right,” replies Harvey. “I’m going to shoot footage, and then I’m going to leave.”

Harvey is then seen in the video attempting to move his camera to different locations to get a clear shot of the encampment, while one of the protesters continues to block his camera with an umbrella, mock him and shout gibberish. The protester then walks back to the encampment, but is visible again at the end of the video shining a green laser in Harvey’s direction.

Harvey declined to comment when reached by the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker.

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