Kori Suzuki, media editor for The Mac Weekly, the student news site of Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, was hit with a crowd-control munition while covering a protest in Brooklyn Center on April 14, 2021, he told the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker.
The fatal police shooting of 20-year-old Daunte Wright in Brooklyn Center on April 11 rekindled a wave of racial justice protests that began almost a year earlier. Wright’s death occurred as a former police officer in nearby Minneapolis was on trial in the death of George Floyd. Protests began outside the Brooklyn Center Police Department the day Wright was killed and continued daily in the city through mid-April.
Suzuki told the Tracker he was covering an evening protest April 14 near the police station with a small group of other student journalists from Macalester College. Some time after it began, he said, the police response to the protest escalated, as law enforcement used chemical agents and crowd-control projectiles on demonstrators.
Suzuki said he was standing with a cluster of five or six journalists next to fencing erected around the police station. Law enforcement officers were directly on the other side of the barrier, he said, shooting pepper balls and other projectiles into the crowd through the fence.
As he was standing there, Suzuki said, a projectile hit one of his legs.
Suzuki tweeted a photograph of the projectile at 10:06 p.m. He wrote that the base was plastic and the tip was foam.
He told the Tracker he was not injured by the impact of the projectile and did not believe he was deliberately targeted. He said he thought the projectile likely ricocheted off of something else before it hit him, and he could not recall which leg it hit.
Suzuki said he was displaying a press badge issued by The Mac Weekly that has his photograph, name, and says “PRESS.”
Multiple law enforcement agencies were involved with the response to protests in Brooklyn Center. Suzuki said he believes the Brooklyn Center Police Department was deploying projectiles that night.
BCPD did not respond to a request for comment.
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.