Reuters producer Julio-César Chávez was struck with multiple crowd-control munitions while covering protests in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on May 30, 2020.
Protests began in Minnesota on May 26, sparked by a video showing a police officer kneeling on the neck of George Floyd, a black man, during an arrest the day before. Floyd was later pronounced dead at a hospital.
Shortly after an 8 p.m. curfew began on the 30th, police fired rubber bullets that hit Chávez in his neck and left arm, according to an account of the event published by Reuters and a tweet from Chávez.
“A police officer that I’m filming turns around points his rubber-bullet rifle straight at me,” Chávez told Reuters. According to the Reuters report, minutes later Chávez and Reuters security advisor Rodney Seward were both struck with crowd-control munitions as they took shelter at a nearby gas station.
Seward yelled that he had been hit in the face by a rubber bullet, and was later treated by a medic for a deep gash under his left eye, according to Reuters.
Chávez was holding cameras and had a press pass around his neck; Seward was wearing a bulletproof vest labeled “press,” according to their employer.
“We strongly object to police firing rubber bullets at our crew in Minneapolis and are addressing the situation with the authorities,” a Reuters spokesperson told the wire service. “It was clear that both our reporter and security advisor were members of the press and not a threat to public order. Journalists must be allowed to report the news without fear of harassment or harm.”
More than three dozen journalists were assaulted, arrested or had equipment damaged while covering protests that night. The Minneapolis Police Department, Minnesota State Police, and Minnesota National Guard did not reply to emailed requests for comment about these incidents.
The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker documents journalists assaulted, arrested, struck by crowd-control ammunition or tear gas or who had their equipment damaged in the course of reporting. Find all incidents related to Black Lives Matter and anti-police brutality protests here.