U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Reporter punched during protest in Delaware; iPhone stolen

Incident Details

May 30, 2020

Radio journalist Sean Greene was punched in the eye by an unknown individual who also stole a smartphone the reporter was using to cover a demonstration in Wilmington, Delaware, on May 30, 2020.

The protest was held in response to a video showing a white police officer kneeling on the neck of George Floyd, a Black man, during an arrest in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on May 25. Floyd was pronounced dead at a local hospital. Protests against police violence and in support of the Black Lives Matter movement have been held across the U.S. since late May.

Greene told the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker that protests he has covered in Wilmington and Dover, Delaware, for radio station WDEL were mostly free of violence and destruction of property, but some individuals took advantage of the May 30 demonstration in Wilmington to break into retail stores and steal merchandise.

Greene used his company-issued iPhone to broadcast the scene to Facebook Live. He was wearing a construction vest and had press credentials attached to a lanyard hanging from his neck.

At about 6 p.m. Greene was filming a person trying to break a storefront window when an unknown individual punched him in the eye.

“I hear someone scream ‘snitch!’ and the next thing I know someone has punched me,” Greene said. The individual also stole the iPhone and fled.

Greene said he didn’t get a good look at the assailant.

Greene said three Wilmington police officers standing nearby saw the assault but took no action. He didn’t seek medical attention and reported the incident to the police.

A Wilmington police spokesman didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Greene said some protesters saw the incident and helped him.

“To the protesters who made sure I was OK and offered me water, thank you,” Greene tweeted following the incident. “To the police officers who saw me take a punch and did nothing, I'm disappointed.”

Greene said he has since covered two additional protests from WDEL without incident.

Mike Phillips, a colleague of Greene’s at WDEL, also had a company-issued iPhone stolen while covering the May 30 protest but wasn’t otherwise harmed. Phillips reported the theft of the two iPhones to the Wilmington Police Department.

A police spokesman declined to comment on Phillips’ report.

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 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].