U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Reporter assaulted live on air at Phoenix protest

Incident Details

Date of Incident
May 29, 2020
Phoenix, Arizona


Was the journalist targeted?
Screenshot via CBS5 & 3 TV

Arizona reporter Briana Whitney was assaulted during a live news shot by a man shouting obscenities.

— Screenshot via CBS5 & 3 TV
May 29, 2020

Briana Whitney, a correspondent for CBS 5 & 3 TV in Phoenix, Arizona, was assaulted live on air by a man who grabbed her and shouted obscenities while she was covering protests outside of the Phoenix Police Department headquarters on May 29, 2020.

Whitney was in the middle of a live broadcast when a man runs into her shot, tackling her while grabbing her microphone and screaming “Fuck her right in the pussy!” He then runs off.

Whitney stays on her feet and quickly says, “I'm so sorry you guys, I did not see that coming. I’m so sorry. We're doing the best we can to keep everything appropriate here,” she says, before returning to her description of the scene in front of headquarters.

Early the next morning, she tweeted out a video of the attack, writing, “I feel violated, and this was terrifying. Let us do our jobs. We are trying our very best.”

Tommy Thompson, a spokesman for the Phoenix Police Department, said in an email that the incident had been reported to the department and remains under investigation, and that no arrest had yet been made.

An interview request sent to Whitney was not immediately returned.

This incident occurred as Whitney covered Phoenix protests over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died on May 25 after a Minneapolis Police officer knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes. Related protests have spread to cities across the nation.

A similar assault, where the assailant shouted identical obscenities to a female broadcaster, occurred in Illinois on May 23.

The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker is documenting damage of equipment and multiple journalists arrested or struck by crowd control ammunition or tear gas while covering related protests across the country. Find all of these cases here.

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