U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Student photojournalist detained while covering NYC protest

Incident Details


Pro-Palestinian protesters march across the Manhattan Bridge in New York City on May 11, 2024. Moments after taking this photo, student photojournalist Jason Alpert-Wisnia was briefly detained by police alongside other members of the press.

May 11, 2024

Jason Alpert-Wisnia, a student photojournalist, was briefly detained by New York City police officers while covering a pro-Palestinian protest on the Manhattan Bridge on May 11, 2024.

Alpert-Wisnia, who works for New York University’s student newspaper and also freelances, told the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker that he was documenting a protest that began in downtown Brooklyn. When a group of about 100 people split off and began heading over the bridge toward Manhattan, he followed alongside a fellow photojournalist who is an NYU alum.

“We got in front of them — myself, him and a couple other journalists — and after we got past what is the first tower, I could see at least two dozen officers down the bridge. I took some photos of them from a distance and then I turned around to get some photos of the protesters,” Alpert-Wisnia said. “At some point, an officer came up behind me and said, ‘Put your arms behind your back.’ So I did. I complied.”

He told the Tracker he identified himself as a journalist repeatedly and was wearing credentials issued by the mayor’s office and by the New York Press Photographers Association when he was zip-tied.

Several minutes later, Alpert-Wisnia said, a community affairs officer approached him and asked for his press card: “He looked at me and said, ‘He’s press, let him go.’ And so they released me.” Alpert-Wisnia said he continued to document the arrests, but couldn’t get very close, as officers were ordering everyone to get off the bridge.

“I knew, obviously, by going on that bridge that there was a risk, but it still caught me off guard regardless,” Alpert-Wisnia said. “Definitely, as a student journalist, this has been a learning experience.”

At least two other journalists were detained while reporting on the bridge that day; both were released without charges.

The New York City Police Department did not 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].