U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

TV reporter arrested at Northern California university protest; charges dropped

Incident Details

Date of Incident
April 30, 2024
Arcata, California

Arrest/Criminal Charge

Detention Date
Unnecessary use of force?

Equipment Damage

Equipment Broken

Adelmi Ruiz, a reporter for KRCR-TV and KAEF-TV, filmed the police response to pro-Palestinian protests at California State Polytechnic University, Humboldt, in the early hours of April 30, 2024. Moments later, she was arrested.

April 30, 2024

TV journalist Adelmi Ruiz was arrested in the early hours of April 30, 2024, while covering student protests at California State Polytechnic University, Humboldt, her outlet KRCR-TV reported. The charges have since been dropped against Ruiz, who is a reporter for the Redding station and its Arcata-Eureka bureau, KAEF-TV.

In an interview with KRCR-TV, Ruiz said she arrived shortly after 10 p.m. on April 29 to begin documenting the pro-Palestinian student encampment and protests.

“I got b-roll, I was recording sound and I was trying to get interviews, but a lot of protesters were denying to be on camera,” Ruiz said. She told the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker that she was reporting from behind the students’ barricades when police moved in.

At approximately 2:30 a.m., the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office and Cal Poly Humboldt Police Department led an operation to clear and secure multiple campus buildings, utilizing law enforcement officers from across the state, KRCR-TV reported.

In Ruiz’s live recording from the scene, lines of officers can be seen advancing onto campus. While what appears to be a final line of university police officers assembles near where Ruiz is reporting, one of the officers calls out to tell her to come behind the police line and out of the way. Ruiz complies and seconds later is placed in flex cuffs and told she’s being detained.

“Wait, I’m press,” Ruiz tells the officer, adding that she was there doing her job. The officer, who was from California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, replies, “OK, well, find a different job if it causes you to break the law.”

Ruiz told the Tracker that she repeatedly identified herself as a journalist and showed the officers her press badge and jacket, but it didn’t make a difference.

Ruiz said a work-issued cellphone fell from her pocket and was lost when officers removed her backpack, and that the bag and her personal cellphone remained in the deputies’ custody on campus while she was transported to the Humboldt County Correctional Facility.

At the county jail, Ruiz said she received a thorough pat-down and had mug shots taken, but was not fingerprinted. According to the daily booking sheet, Ruiz was charged with trespassing, unlawful assembly, obstructing an officer and obstructing a business.

Shortly after 5 a.m., Ruiz told the Tracker, Sheriff William Honsal pulled her aside to talk about how she had been caught up in the arrests. He apologized for what happened and said that he would finish processing her paperwork and that she’d be free to go.

Ruiz was released at 5:25 a.m., according to law enforcement records, under a California statute that allows officers to release an arrestee when they believe there are insufficient grounds for pursuing the charges. When reached by phone, the Humboldt County Superior Court confirmed that there are no pending charges against Ruiz.

Honsal drove her back to campus himself, Ruiz told the Tracker, and she was able to resume her reporting once her belongings were returned.

“I am extremely thankful to the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Department for William Honsal, who was able to get everything resolved as quickly as possible,” Ruiz said.

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