U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Reporter Mike Kessler's camera is smashed in Berkeley

Incident Details

Thomas Hawk

A protester swings Mike Kessler's camera before smashing it on the ground, on Aug. 27, 2017, in Berkeley, California.

— Thomas Hawk
August 27, 2017

Mike Kessler was covering a demonstration on Aug. 27, 2017, in Berkeley, California, when a group of protesters stole his camera and phone and attempted to break them. His phone was not damaged, but his camera was completely destroyed.

In an essay for The New Republic, Kessler described what happened:

Suddenly, from behind, someone knocked my camera out of my right hand, then did the same to my phone, which was in my left. I turned around to see a black leather boot stomping my phone (it survived—thanks, Otter case!), while another antifa picked up my camera, hurled it into the air, and got in my face. “No fucking pictures!”

The New Republic

Kessler said in an interview with the Freedom of the Press Foundation that his camera, a Canon G12, was complete destroyed. He also said that he saw three people trying to extract the memory card from his camera.

“After the crowd thinned out and police came, I saw three people attempting to get the SD card out of my camera,” he said. “The camera itself was totally mangled. The guts of the camera were hanging out. I saw the battery on the ground later. They had smashed the body of the camera in such a way that prevented the SD card from being removed.”

Thomas Hawk, an independent photojournalist who witnessed the incident, confirmed Kessler’s account of what happened.

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