U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Three Raleigh newsrooms damaged during protests

Incident Details

Leigh Tauss via Twitter

INDY Week Raleigh news editor Leigh Tauss was washing off tear gas in the North Carolina newsroom when the vandalizing began. “I’m devastated,” she said the next day posting the damage — burned furniture, water damage and stolen equipment.

— Leigh Tauss via Twitter
May 30, 2020

The offices of INDY Week, The News & Observer, and ABC11 in downtown Raleigh, N.C. were damaged during protests in the city on May 30, 2020.

Alternative weekly newspaper INDY Week reported extensive damage to its newsroom, while ABC11 and The News & Observer newspaper both had windows smashed as protests stretched late into the night.

The protests in Raleigh echoed demonstrations across the country sparked by a video showing a white police officer kneeling on the neck of George Floyd, a Black man, during an arrest in Minneapolis. Floyd was pronounced dead at a local hospital.

The newsrooms in Raleigh were damaged late in the first major day of protesting in the city. Demonstrations had been peaceful through the day, but late in the evening, after police began using tear gas to disperse crowds, a small group of people began destroying property in the city’s downtown.

INDY Week Raleigh news editor Leigh Tauss told U.S. Press Freedom Tracker she had returned to the office while covering the protests to wash her face off and get some water, after she had been caught up in tear gas. She was in the back of the ground-floor office near the water cooler, shortly before 10 p.m., when she heard the window shatter, she said.

She sank down to the floor and called her editor, before she moved out toward the front of the office and saw a brick had been thrown through the window, she said. She posted about the damage on Twitter.

Tauss said she tried to leave the office then, but when she stepped outside, there was more tear gas in the street so she came back inside. She was in the hallway when she heard someone enter the office and ducked into the basement to hide. After waiting for a few minutes, she got a text from another journalist who was outside and who told her it was clear for her to leave. She posted on Twitter at that point that it appeared that someone had tried to take water, but no computers were missing.

Later that night, according to Tauss, somebody entered the office and caused more extensive damage. Large windows were entirely smashed. Couches in the office were set on fire, setting off the sprinkler system. While other equipment was damaged by the water, her desktop computer went missing, she said.

The three offices were just some of many businesses damaged in the city. According to an article in the News & Observer, “nearly every” business in Raleigh’s downtown area was damaged overnight.

A spokesperson for the Raleigh Police Department said police were aware of damage to INDY Week and the News & Observer. There haven’t been any arrests related to the incidents, according to the department.

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.

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