U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Unicorn Riot journalist shot with projectile in Brooklyn Center

Incident Details

Date of Incident
April 13, 2021


Was the journalist targeted?
April 13, 2021

Niko Georgiades, a journalist with the nonprofit media outlet Unicorn Riot, was hit in the knee with a crowd-control round while reporting on a protest in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, on April 13, 2021.

Several hundred protesters marched to the Brooklyn Center Police Department in response to the fatal shooting of 20-year-old Daunte Wright, a Black man, by a white police officer during a traffic stop. Wright’s death, on April 11, occurred as a former police officer in nearby Minneapolis was on trial in the death of George Floyd, rekindling a wave of protests against racial injustice and police brutality that had started nearly a year earlier.

Georgiades said that on the night of April 13, a line of law-enforcement officers were pushing protesters up Humboldt Avenue, away from the area immediately outside the police station.

Video Georgiades streamed live to Unicorn Riot’s Twitter shows that the Minnesota State Patrol made multiple unlawful assembly announcements, and ordered press to disperse.

“Media, you must leave the area,” a voice can be heard saying after one MSP unlawful-assembly order, about 32 minutes and 30 seconds into the video.

About a minute later, a large number of law enforcement, including MSP troopers, can be seen rushing forward toward the crowd, and Georgiades seems to back up out of their way.

Suddenly there is a pop and Georgiades shouts out and curses. “Shot me right in the leg,” he says, and points the camera down, showing a white mark on his jeans.

Georgiades told the Tracker the projectile hit him in the right knee, a few inches from his kneecap.

On the video, after Georgiades is hit, he briefly pans the camera around him and says, “There’s nothing but press up here.” Several people nearby can be seen carrying large cameras and wearing helmets.

At 9:35 p.m., Unicorn Riot tweeted that their reporter had just been shot in the leg with “some kind of impact round.”

A few hours later, Unicorn Riot tweeted a photograph of a bloody wound on Georgiades’ leg.

Georgiades told the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker he believed he was hit with a marker round, a type of projectile that leaves chalky powder where it hits. Georgiades said he thought the round might also have contained a chemical agent, like pepper spray, because when he took his pants off at home after the protest and shook them to remove the chalk, he could feel the effects of a chemical agent. He said he still had a scab a week later.

Georgiades said he believes he was targeted because he was a journalist. He said he was wearing a press pass, which identifies him as a journalist with Unicorn Riot, and had a camera on a shoulder rig and carried a microphone, which made him easily identifiable as a journalist. He said he had a light on his camera, which he believes was why he was shot. Police had asked earlier in the protest that he turn off his light, claiming it was impeding their vision.

Georgiades said he wasn’t sure which law-enforcement agency fired the munition that hit him. He said he saw MSP troopers, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources conservation officers and other officers in dark uniforms he couldn’t identify. National Guard troops were also on site.

Neither the MSP nor DNR responded to a request for comment.

The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker documents incidents of journalists being 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].