Student journalist pepper-sprayed, thrown to ground by law enforcement in Richmond

June 21, 2020

Journalist Andrew Ringle was pepper sprayed by a Richmond, Virginia, police officer and then thrown to the ground by another law enforcement official while he was covering protests on June 21, 2020, in favor of removing Confederate monuments, Ringle told the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Ringle serves as the executive editor of the student newspaper, The Commonwealth Times. In a phone interview with CPJ, a founding partner of the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker, he said that a Richmond police officer sprayed him in the face twice around 9 p.m. As he fumbled around, vision obfuscated from the pepper spray, Ringle bumped into an officer who picked him up and threw him to the ground, the journalist told CPJ. A protester helped Ringle, who left the demonstration and went to his friend’s apartment, he said.

Ringle’s left knee and left elbow were bruised during the incident. Ringle posted to his Twitter account pictures of his injuries the evening they occured. Two days later, his hands were still tender from the pepper spray, he told CPJ on June 23.

The journalist told CPJ that he was wearing a state-issued press badge granted as part of a college class when he encountered police.

Richmond Police did not respond to CPJ’s email or voicemail requests for comment. Virginia State Police referred CPJ to its Public Relations Director, Corinne Geller, who did not respond to CPJ’s email requesting comment.

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

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