U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Unknown individual pepper sprays CBS4 Denver news crew

Incident Details

Date of Incident
May 29, 2020
Denver, Colorado


Was the journalist targeted?
May 29, 2020

An unknown man sprayed pepper spray at CBS4 Denver news crew that was covering the protests on the streets of Colorado’s capital on May 29, 2020.

This incident occurred during the second night of protests in Denver over the death of George Floyd, a Black man who died after a Minneapolis Police officer knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes on May 25. Related protests have spread to cities across the nation.

Photojournalist Rob McClure and reporter Jamie Leary were both “OK” after the attack, according to a tweet from CBS producer Dago Cordova, who shared video footage of the incident.

The crew was set up directly across from the Colorado Capitol along Lincoln Avenue. In the video, an unidentified young man in a colorful striped shirt, black baseball cap and black balaclava holding a canister of pepper spray walks by the journalists, who are filming live, then doubles back and sprays the crew with pepper spray. “Hey hey hey, Are you kidding me?” Leary says as the attack is underway.

Leary told the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker that both she and McClure were able to avoid a direct hit from the pepper spray because they had just watched the man pepper spray another camera crew nearby. They were watching him carefully, she explained. “He walked by us and then did an about-face,” Leary said.

The Tracker documented Leary’s assault here. McClure’s camera was lightly sprayed, but was not damaged.

The identity of the other camera crew attacked was not immediately available.

The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker documents 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].