U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Student journalist detained during LA election-related protest

Incident Details

November 4, 2020

Student journalist Emily Holshouser was one of at least four journalists detained while covering election-related protests in support of the Black Lives Matter movement in Los Angeles, California, on Nov. 4, 2020.

Holshouser, who writes for California State University Northridge’s student publication The Daily Sundial, tweeted that she was covering a protest scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. outside City Hall in downtown LA.

When the event dispersed at 6:30 p.m., Holshouser followed a small group of remaining demonstrators as they walked south down Spring Street toward Pershing Square. By 7 p.m., the approximately 40 to 50 people who remained had stopped at the intersection of West 5th and South Hill streets, according to a tweet posted by Holshouser.

Holshouser tweeted just before 7:30 p.m. that Los Angeles police officers had arrived and declared that the gathering was an unlawful assembly.

Multiple journalists present at the protest reported that officers then hemmed in everyone present using a police tactic called kettling, and announced that everyone was under arrest.

Two videographers — Vishal Singh and Sean Beckner-Carmitchel — were placed under arrest for failure to disperse.

After being threatened with arrest, Holshouser tweeted that she and other members of the press were directed to a media staging area approximately 20 minutes later.

The Tracker has documented the detentions of all the journalists confirmed to have been present in the kettle here.

An independent journalist, @desertborder, tweeted at 8:05 p.m. that the LAPD officers had opened the kettle and released the remaining members of the press and demonstrators who had been detained.

By just after 8:30 p.m., Holshouser posted, “It’s all over. Cops have left, reporters have left, I’m headed home.”

When asked for comment about the arrests, Los Angeles Police Department spokesperson Capt. Stacy Spell confirmed to the Los Angeles Times that two individuals had been arrested and cited for failure to disperse. She also claimed that LAPD officers have been dealing with large, disruptive crowds that all subsequently claim to be members of the press.

“We are having an ongoing challenge with individuals who are participating in disruptive activities, taking over the street and failing to disperse but subsequently claiming to be media,” Spell said. “Literally the entire crowd claimed to be media.”

The LAPD did not respond to an emailed request for further comment.

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