U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Reporter arrested, held 12 hours while covering Louisville protests

Incident Details

Date of Incident
September 23, 2020

Arrest/Criminal Charge

Unnecessary use of force?
REUTERS/Bryan Woolston

A man in Louisville, Kentucky, holds up a sign during a Sept. 23, 2020, protest for Breonna Taylor, a Black woman shot dead by local police earlier in the year.

— REUTERS/Bryan Woolston
September 23, 2020

Daily Caller reporter Jorge Ventura was arrested while covering protests and unrest in Louisville, Kentucky, on Sept. 23, 2020, and detained more than 12 hours.

Protesters marching daily for months in downtown Louisville were inflamed anew that day after a grand jury decided not to charge police officers for the shooting death of Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman, in her home on March 13, 2020.

Ventura and Shelby Talcott, his colleague from the right-leaning news and opinion outlet, were reporting from the city center late at night when police began using a controversial crowd-control technique called kettling that restricts people from dispersing, according to an account of the arrests Talcott later published. The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker has documented Talcott’s arrest here.

Video Talcott posted on Twitter shortly before the two journalists were arrested shows she told nearby police officers that they were members of the press several times.

Geoffrey Ingersoll, editor in chief of the Daily Caller, tweeted at 11:37 p.m. that he had notified the Louisville Metropolitan Police Department that the two reporters were press, and expected they would be released swiftly. A short time later he posted that he learned that they would be processed and charged.

While he was held in the police processing center, Ventura was called over to a supervising police officer who told him that Ingersoll had called, Ventura said in an interview with Fox News. He said he thought then that the two journalists would be released, but the officer briefly left, and when he returned, told him that they would be arrested and held overnight.

Ventura was released early in the afternoon on Sept. 24.

Ventura was charged with violating a county ordinance and failure to disperse, CNN reported.

The LMPD didn’t respond to a request for comment about why the reporters were arrested. In an email to members of the media earlier on Sept. 23, the department said journalists wouldn’t be subject to curfew or unlawful-assembly orders, according to correspondence shared on Twitter by a Louisville Courier-Journal reporter.

A court dropped the charges against both Talcott and Ventura on Oct. 20, the Daily Caller reported.

The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker is documenting several hundred incidents of journalists being assaulted, arrested, struck by crowd-control ammunition or tear gas, or having their equipment damaged while covering these protests across the country. Find these incidents here.

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