U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Tampa Bay Times reporter detained during St. Petersburg protests

Incident Details

June 2, 2020

Tampa Bay Times reporter Jay Cridlin was detained on June 2, 2020, while covering a protest in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Protesters had gathered in St. Petersburg and in cities across the U.S. to denounce police brutality following the death of George Floyd, a Black man, during an arrest in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on May 25.

The Times reported that Cridlin was covering demonstrations outside police headquarters on First Avenue North when protesters were ordered to disperse. St. Petersburg police officers and Pinellas County sheriff’s deputies then advanced on the crowd to make arrests. Cridlin was detained by a sheriff’s deputy, who placed his hands in zip ties.

A St. Petersburg police spokesperson told the Times that Chief Anthony Holloway recognized Cridlin and had a deputy free him right away.

Cridlin told the Times that Holloway, Mayor Rick Kriseman and Sheriff Bob Gualtieri reached out to apologize the following day. Gualtieri also said he was looking into the incident.

“You guys have a role. This has nothing to do with the media,” Gualtieri said. “It was clearly accidental, and we just need to avoid it.”

In a statement the following day, Times Executive Editor Mark Katches objected to the detentions of Cridlin and a second Times journalist, Divya Kumar, in Tampa on June 3. The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker documented Kumar’s arrest here.

“Journalists need to be able to do our jobs and report the news without being harassed, detained, intimidated or harmed by law enforcement,” Katches said.

The Tracker is documenting several hundred incidents of journalists assaulted, arrested, struck by crowd control ammunition or tear gas or had their equipment damaged while covering protests across the country. Find these incidents here.

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