U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

TV reporter assaulted while covering protest in NC

Incident Details

Date of Incident
August 13, 2017


Was the journalist targeted?

A screenshot from the WLOS Facebook Live video shows a man grabbing a reporter's camera.

January 29, 2018 - Update

Protester sentenced for assaulting TV reporter at Asheville rally

The man who assaulted a reporter for TV station WLOS at an anti-racist protest in Asheville, North Carolina, was sentenced on Jan. 29, 2018, for the attack.

Michael Patrick Faulkner pleaded guilty to the assault and was sentenced to 45 days of community service and 12 months of supervised probation and was fined $200, a clerk at the Buncombe County Superior Court confirmed.

In August 2017, Faulkner approached an unnamed reporter who was livestreaming a demonstration to WLOS’ Facebook page and told him to stop filming the crowd. Faulkner then attempted to grab the reporter’s camera several times and threatened the reporter with physical harm.

August 13, 2017

A reporter for local North Carolina TV station WLOS was assaulted while live-streaming a peaceful anti-racist demonstration in Asheville, North Carolina, on Aug. 13, 2017.

The reporter was streaming video of the demonstration live to the Facebook page of WLOS, also known as ABC 13, when a man in the crowd approached him and told him to stop filming the crowd.

Much of the man's interaction with the reporter was captured on the Facebook Live stream:

"I'm a reporter with WLOS," the reporter says. "Right now, we're doing a Facebook Live."

The man then attempts to grab the reporter's camera.

"Dude, you need to get your hands off of me," the reporter says. "Do not touch me!"

"Get that camera out of my fucking face!" the man says. "Do it again."

He tries to grab the reporter's camera again and appears to push the reporter.

At this point, a second man intervenes, separating the first man from the reporter.

"Hey, you should go," the second man says to the reporter. "You should go. Go."

"I'm a reporter for — do not touch me!" the reporter says. "Get your hands off me."

"Hey, you're asking for it, man!" the second man says.

"Get out of the fucking crowd, dude!" the first man says, approaching the reporter. "Move it! I will fuck you up!"

"Oh, that was a threat," the second man says to the first. "Dude, you can't say that."

The first man then lunges for the reporter's camera again. 

"Dude, I will break you," he says, while being held back by other protesters.

The reporter then walks away to film other parts of the crowd.

About a minute later, the first man reappears, walking toward the reporter.

"I'm a reporter with WLOS," the reporter says.

"I don't care who the fuck you are," the man says. "Move! Where's your fucking camera crew? Move the fuck off the block!"

"Dude, get away from me," the reporter says. "Seriously. I will go get a police officer."

"Go get a police officer," the man says, as the reporter repeatedly asks him to leave him alone. "Do it. Move. Move it. You got some fucking skills? Bring it. You motherfucker! Take a fucking walk."

"I'm literally a reporter for WLOS," the reporter says.

"Put the camera down," the man says, reaching for the reporter's camera for the fourth time.

At this point, another bystander intervenes and encourages the man to ignore the reporter and go stand somewhere else in the crowd.

After the man finally walks away, the reporter finds a police officer and says that the man assaulted him multiple times and he has evidence of the assault on camera.

The Asheville Police Department later published the man's photo on its Facebook page and asked the community to help identify him. The police department later announced that a 38-year-old man named Michael Patrick Faulkner had been arrested and charged with misdemeanor assault in connection with the incident.

A court hearing in Faulkner's case is scheduled for Sept. 6, 2017.

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