U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Social media journalist hit with projectile while covering DC protest

Incident Details

Date of Incident
August 29, 2020

Assault

Was the journalist targeted?
Yes
August 29, 2020

A social media journalist told the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker he was shot in the leg with a projectile while reporting on a protest in Washington, D.C., on Aug. 29, 2020.

Regular protests over racial justice held in Washington and across the country since the May 25 killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis were amplified by anger over the Aug. 23 police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin. In addition, thousands had gathered in the nation’s capital on Aug. 28 for the 57th anniversary of the civil rights era March on Washington.

The Tracker is documenting arrests, assaults and other obstructions to journalists covering protests across the country.

Marchers on the evening of the 29th converged on Black Lives Matter Plaza, just north of the White House, and protests continued into the morning of the 30th.

The journalist, who requested the Tracker identify him by his Twitter handle Rawsmedia, posts video and photos of protests on social media. He said he was covering the march as it ended at Black Lives Matter Plaza on the 29th.

Between 9 and 10 p.m., he said, protesters gathered near barricades on the edge of the plaza. He said he suddenly heard police start to deploy flash-bang grenades and tear gas canisters, prompting the crowd to start running away.

Rawsmedia said he was trying to move out of the area when he was hit in the right shin near his ankle with a crowd-control projectile that he described as a rubber puck. The injury was extremely painful, he told the Tracker, and he needed to be carried out from the area.

A video posted on Twitter by journalist Chuck Modiano shows Rawsmedia wearing a helmet and vest, both marked “PRESS,” being helped by a group of people toward a tent where protest medics were treating people, while someone asks for medical assistance for him.

Rawsmedia told the Tracker that medics put ice on his leg at the protest. He didn’t seek further treatment that night, but he decided to go to the hospital the next day. He said his wound was treated with seven stitches, and it took about three weeks to fully heal.

Rawsmedia said he believes he was targeted because he was a journalist. He said that in addition to having the word “press” written on his helmet and vest, he shouted out to identify himself as a journalist. He said that he was in a gap in the crowd at the time that he was hit, and was not immediately near any protesters.

“I was the only person in that open space, so I felt like I was targeted by that,” he said.

The Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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