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Two journalists assaulted while covering protest in Memphis

June 19, 2019

At least two reporters were hurt as protests erupted over a fatal officer shooting in Memphis, Tennessee, on June 12, 2019.

U.S. marshals shot and killed Brandon Webber, a 20-year-old black man, in the Memphis community of Frayser, sparking violent protests. In a Facebook post in response to the protests, Memphis Mayor John Strickland wrote that “At least 24 officers and deputies were injured—-6 were taken to the hospital. At least two journalists were injured.”

WREG-TV reporter Luke Jones wrote on Twitter that a man that ran up and hit him in the head, and then knocked him to the ground. Eight hours later, Jones tweeted again, and said that he was leaving the hospital and received a contusion.

Jones told the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker that he did not have any equipment with him at the time he was attacked, and that he had been walking to meet a photographer when it felt like someone punched him in the side of his head.

Jones said he filed a police report over the incident on the evening of June 12.

WATN-TV reporter Rebecca Butcher tweeted that the photographer with her, Patrick Niedzwiedz, had been struck while filming the protest.

Butcher told the Tracker that after their third live broadcast for the 9 p.m. show, Niedzwiedz was still filming when he was struck in the side of his face by someone in the crowd. The video he was filming during the altercation shows a group of protesters pushing into the frame, and one attempting to grab the microphone from Butcher’s hand.

Butcher said that since Niedzwiedz’s eye was still to the camera he did not see who struck him. The blow did not break the skin and his camera equipment was not damaged.

Mayor Strickland’s media office did not immediately respond to a request for comment by the Tracker.

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

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