Student journalist shoved to ground by state trooper while covering Brooklyn Center protest

April 16, 2021

Estelle Timar-Wilcox, news editor for the Macalester College student news site The Mac Weekly, was shoved by a Minnesota State Patrol trooper while covering a protest in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, on April 16, 2021, she 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 through mid-April.

According to the St. Paul Pioneer Press, the April 16 protest had been peaceful until around 9 p.m., when, authorities told the outlet, some in the crowd began to throw objects and attempt to break through a barrier around the police station, prompting the declaration of an unlawful assembly and orders for dispersal. At around 10 p.m., according to Minnesota Public Radio, police moved swiftly to corral the protesters and members of the press, deploying flash-bang grenades and pepper spray.

Timar-Wilcox told the Tracker that she was reporting on the protest that night outside the police station with three other student journalists from the Mac Weekly.

She said they heard police make the unlawful assembly announcement and that about 15 minutes later a line of law enforcement officers came in from many directions to form a “kettle,” a crowd-control tactic in which officers block people from leaving.

Timar-Wilcox said she was standing by an apartment building near the police station with her fellow student journalists and other members of the media, taking photographs and reporting as officers moved up the street. She said that they were on the outside of the kettle.

After the first line of law enforcement officers passed by, she said, a line of Minnesota State Patrol troopers started to come up the street, asking journalists to move back. Timar-Wilcox said she had already backed up and was against the apartment building, but one trooper on the edge of the line tried to get her to move farther back, she said, and shoved her to the ground.

Video Timar-Wilcox recorded of the incident, reviewed by the Tracker, shows many MSP troopers moving past the camera. Voices can be heard saying, “Media, back up,” and “Keep going.”

One voice shouts, “Back up!” The video shakes and the screen briefly goes black, then is angled upward, catching part of a trooper’s bright yellow uniform.

This was the moment the trooper shoved her and she fell to the ground, according to Timar-Wilcox. She said she does not remember specifically where the trooper touched her but believes it was her shoulder or arm.

She said she was not injured. Another journalist helped her get back on her feet and she continued reporting, she said.

A short time after she was shoved, she said, law enforcement directed her and other journalists nearby to stand on a street corner and told them they could not move any closer to the kettle.

Timar-Wilcox said she was wearing a lanyard with her press pass issued by the Mac Weekly, which clearly states “press.” She said she does not believe that she was targeted because she was a journalist.

MSP did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker documents incidents of journalists being 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.

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

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