U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Social media journalist hit with projectile while covering Minneapolis protest

Incident Details

Date of Incident
May 30, 2020


Was the journalist targeted?
May 30, 2020

Brad Svenson, a Minnesota-based journalist who runs the social media outlet Watchdog Citizen News, said he was hit with a crowd-control round fired by a Minnesota State Patrol trooper while covering a protest in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on May 30, 2020.

Months of protests in Minneapolis and across the nation were sparked by the May 25 death of George Floyd, a Black man, while in police custody. Svenson, who videos and live-streams protests, told the Tracker he was covering a protest near the intersection of Nicollet Avenue and Lake Street in Minneapolis.

He said he was in a parking lot near an apartment complex and saw other journalists who had apparently been hit by crowd-control munitions. As a line of law enforcement officers was coming up the street, Svenson said he and another member of the press went over to see if the other journalists were OK.

Svenson said he was holding up his press badge, a card he made that had his photograph and the word “PRESS” in large letters, to the officers as they advanced. He said he saw that the officers were holding weapons, so he shouted out “press” to identify himself and turned around and started walking away.

As he was walking, he said, a Minnesota State Patrol trooper shot him with a bean-bag round, a crowd-control projectile consisting of a fabric bag filled with lead shot. The round hit him in the back just below his left armpit.

Svenson said the impact was painful and it hurt to breathe after he was hit, but he didn’t think it broke a rib. He said he was able to continue to cover protests for the next several weeks. Svenson said he has been in treatment for PTSD after covering protests in 2020, and believes that being shot with the munition was “the catalyst.”

Svenson believes he was targeted for being a journalist.

MSP didn’t 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].