Raleigh News & Observer, other newspaper offices damaged during protests

May 30, 2020

The offices of The News & Observer, INDY Week and ABC11 in downtown Raleigh, N.C. were damaged during protests in the city on May 30, 2020.

Alternative weekly newspaper INDY Week reported extensive damage to its newsroom, while ABC11 and The News & Observer newspaper both had windows smashed as protests stretched late into the night.

The protests in Raleigh echoed demonstrations across the country sparked by a video showing a white police officer kneeling on the neck of George Floyd, a Black man, during an arrest in Minneapolis. Floyd was pronounced dead at a local hospital.

The newsrooms in Raleigh were damaged late in the first major day of protesting in the city. Demonstrations had been peaceful through the day, but late in the evening, after police began using tear gas to disperse crowds, a small group of people began destroying property in the city’s downtown.

At The News & Observer, business reporter Aaron Sánchez-Guerra saw windows at the entrance to the offices being smashed by a small group of people who broke off from a larger group that had been destroying property and looting in the area.

Sánchez-Guerra told the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker he recognized one of the individuals as a protester whom he had interviewed a short time earlier. He said that he shouted at the group to stop, that they were journalists. The protester appeared to recognize him, and they left.

The newspaper didn’t appear to be targeted, but was just one of many businesses that were impacted that night, according to members of the publication’s staff. Many nearby restaurants sustained damage and were looted, Sánchez-Guerra said. “We were just another open target.”

Two windows at The News & Observer were damaged during the protest, according to Betsy Womble, executive assistant to the publisher and president of the paper. The damage was reported to police, but there have been no developments with the report, she said.

The three offices were just some of many businesses damaged in the city. According to an article in the News & Observer, “nearly every” business in Raleigh’s downtown area was damaged overnight.

A spokesperson for the Raleigh Police Department said police were aware of damage to INDY Week and the News & Observer. There haven’t been any arrests related to the incidents, according to the department.

The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker documents journalists assaulted, arrested, struck by crowd-control ammunition or tear gas or who had their equipment damaged in the course of reporting. Find all incidents related to Black Lives Matter and anti-police brutality protests here.

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

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