Capital Public Radio state government reporter Scott Rodd was consistently blocked while covering protests against police violence in Sacramento, California, on July 25, 2020. In the early hours of the next morning, he tweeted that an individual in the crowd had cut his charging cable. Rodd eventually removed himself from the scene to report from afar.
Rodd was documenting a solidarity march in downtown Sacramento in support of the protesters in Portland and the Black Lives Matter movement following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on May 25. The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker is documenting assaults, arrests and other incidents involving journalists covering protests across the country.
On the afternoon of July 25, protesters had gathered at Cesar Chavez Plaza to march toward the Capitol, according to news reports at the time. A press release from the Sacramento Police Department stated that a second group of people in black clothing and protective gear arrived later in the evening and escalated tensions among what had been a peaceful demonstration.
“Different vibe than previous protests. Guy in helmet tried to grab my phone when I took this photo,” Rodd tweeted at 11:25 p.m. “I’m now surrounded by 3 people with umbrellas intended to block my view.” Rodd declined to comment further on the incident.
Throughout the night, Rodd tweeted several more photos and updates about his limited access and the frustration protesters were directing toward him.
“Sensing lots of hostility I removed myself from the crowd to report from the edge of the park,” he tweeted a little after midnight. He also mentioned that someone had cut his charging cable while he’d been surrounded in the park.
“Multiple demonstrators expressed concern over a recent court ruling in Seattle, which is requiring several media outlets to give police photos and videos captured during a recent protest in order to help them solve alleged arson of law enforcement vehicles and theft of firearms,” Rodd wrote in a story for CapRadio the next day. “The ruling applies to images and videos taken with professional camera equipment, but not cellphones.”
In a tweet at 2 a.m. on July 26, Rodd linked an article that described the Seattle ruling, noting, “Among the more constructive conversations I had with protesters was a about this court ruling out of Seattle,” and then adding, “In the article, one media law expert said the ruling ‘creates a “troubling precedent” that could make news media unwelcome at future protests.’”