U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Democrat and Chronicle photographer hit with projectiles during Rochester protests of less-lethal munitions while covering Daniel Prude protests

Incident Details

Date of Incident
September 5, 2020
Rochester, New York


Was the journalist targeted?
Courtesy Jamie Germano

Multiple journalists were hit with munitions on Sept. 5, the fourth night of protests in Rochester, New York, following the release of body camera footage related to the death of a Black man in the city in March 2020.

— Courtesy Jamie Germano
September 5, 2020

Democrat and Chronicle photographer Shawn Dowd was hit with crowd-control munitions while covering protests in Rochester, New York, on Sept. 5, 2020.

For the fourth straight night, demonstrators marched in protest of the death of Daniel Prude, a 41-year-old Black man who died by asphyxiation while in the custody of Rochester police in March; details surrounding his death came to light only after police body camera footage was released on Sept. 2. The protest was just one of many that had occurred across the nation throughout the summer in protest of police brutality and in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Dowd, who had also been hit the night before, told the Tracker that he “made the conscious decision to [put himself in the front line] again.”

Dowd said he was hit with a volley of pepper balls, including on the heel of his right hand, which he’d been using to hold his camera to take a photo. Afterward, Dowd said, his hand was swollen and he avoided using his pinky finger for several weeks.

When the police officers “would open fire,” Dowd said, “it seemed like they were just spraying.” He said he saw a number of individuals who were unidentifiable as protesters or press, and connected that to the indiscriminate targeting of less-lethal weapons by the police.

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.

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