U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Reporter’s phone knocked to the ground, later stolen at LA protest

Incident Details


CalMatters reporter Sergio Olmos, in black shirt at center right, is seen wearing a press credential and filming as pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli protesters clash in Los Angeles, California, on June 23, 2024. Seconds later, his phone was stolen.

June 23, 2024

Sergio Olmos, an investigative reporter for the nonprofit news site CalMatters, reported that his phone was knocked to the ground and subsequently stolen while he was documenting clashes between pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli protesters in Los Angeles, California, on June 23, 2024. At least nine journalists were assaulted while covering the violence that day.

The conflict began after the Southern California chapter of the Palestinian Youth Movement called for demonstrators to meet at noon outside the Adas Torah synagogue in the heavily Jewish Pico-Robertson neighborhood in west LA to protest the alleged sale of occupied Palestinian land in the West Bank, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Multiple journalists told the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker that scuffles, brawls and exchanges of pepper spray broke out in the streets nearby between the protesters and counterprotesters.

Individuals from both sides — including a rabbi and security volunteers from the Jewish community — attempted to intervene and prevent the violence from escalating. CNN reported that Los Angeles Police Department officers established a perimeter around the synagogue.

Olmos wrote on the social media platform X that he was filming an attack on a pro-Palestinian protester when a man drove a truck toward the crowd, nearly ramming people. “At that moment a pro-israeli demonstrator knocked my phone out of my hands to stop me from filming it,” Olmos wrote.

Independent videographer Sean Beckner-Carmitchel told the Tracker that the phone was later returned. Olmos declined to comment further when reached by the Tracker.

In a second post, Olmos wrote that in a separate incident later that day a different demonstrator stole his phone and, when he held up his press credentials, the man told him, “You shouldn’t be there.” The robbery can be seen at 0:47 in footage captured by Beckner-Carmitchel. Of the phone, Olmos wrote: “its gone.”

The LAPD said in a news release that officers were investigating two reports of battery at the protest and that one individual had been arrested for having a spiked post. A spokesperson for the department told the Tracker via email June 27 that they have no further information.

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