U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Unicorn Riot journalist pushed by officer while covering protest

Incident Details

Date of Incident
June 3, 2021


Was the journalist targeted?
June 3, 2021

Niko Georgiades, a journalist with the nonprofit media outlet Unicorn Riot, says he was pushed from behind by a police officer as he was livestreaming a protest in Minneapolis on June 3.

Just before midnight, Georgiades was covering protests held in the city’s Uptown area over the fatal shooting of Winston Boogie Smith Jr. Smith, a 32-year-old Black man, was killed that day while members of the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force were pursuing him because he was wanted on a state felony arrest warrant for firearm possession, according to media reports.

Georgiades told the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker: “The police were clearing protesters off of Lake St. on the first night of protests for Winston Smith.”

Georgiades said that as he watched police make a few arrests, he felt an officer push him from behind. The officer “then came out of the police line directly towards me and continued for about 50 feet. When he realized he was all alone, he stopped and moved back to the police line,” Georgiades said.

The journalist said that about 15 minutes before he was pushed, another officer had approached him and struck his camera. “He pushed his hand down from the top of the camera telling me to ‘get out of here.’ I was not injured in this incident,” said Georgiades.

Georgiades said he felt the officers were deliberately targeting media. “I had my Unicorn Riot press badge hanging around my neck and I had a large camera with lights on it and a microphone with a Unicorn Riot flag on it,” he told the Tracker.

The Citizen Reporter, a Twitter feed covering protests, streamed video that night and tweeted: “@UR_Ninja’s Niko, who is credentialed press, was shoved from behind by a Minneapolis police officer on Lake St. in Uptown about 20 minutes ago. He was following orders when he was shoved.”

The video shows Georgiades carrying a video camera and being pushed by a police officer. The words ‘I’m media” can be heard. In a video Georgiades made himself and posted on YouTube, there are blurred images of him being pushed by an officer who looks to be running. He can be heard to say: “I’m media. What the fuck? I’m not doing anything, I’m media.”

A Minneapolis Police Department spokesperson said: “If the journalist believes that he was mistreated or that officers violated policy, I would encourage him to reach out to the Internal Affairs Unit or the Office of Police Conduct Review Board and file a complaint.” Georgiades said he had not filed a complaint.

Wilson’s death sparked further protests in a city that has seen many such demonstrations since the 2020 murder of George Floyd, a Black man who was pinned to the ground by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. Chauvin was convicted of murder in April.

The area also saw protests in nearby Brooklyn Center after the fatal shooting of 20-year-old Daunte Wright, a Black man, by a white police officer on April 11.

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