A New York-based journalist said he was assaulted on Sept. 5, 2023, while covering a protest against a migrant shelter.
Lukasz Matyja posted that he was “mini assaulted/groped” and “accosted” while filming at the former St. John Villa Academy in Staten Island, where a crowd had gathered to oppose its use to house asylum seekers.
The independent videographer journalist, who documented the press violation with a video shared on YouTube, told the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker that he was not injured nor his equipment damaged. He did not file a police report and was not seeking to press charges.
Matyja, who told the Tracker that he was wearing New York press credentials while covering the protest as a freelancer, said that he contributes breaking news footage of crime scenes, fires and unusual incidents to the news agency Freedomnews.tv.
The incident began when he started filming a photographer being criticized by the crowd for wearing a face mask. “As I was filming her, a man approached me, started licking his fingers and tried to smudge my camera lens,” Matyja said via email. “The man tried smudging my camera a few times and eventually I boxed him away from my camera with my body and swatted his hand away.”
A group of people then surrounded Matyja. “That is when I got accosted by others. … People started bumping into me on purpose and screaming at me. After that, they chased me off of the event. I was called a ‘rat’ for filming that scene,” he said.
Of the incident, Matyja wrote in a YouTube post that he wasn't hurt, but would need to attend to his camera. “I will most likely have to disinfect my camera really well now,” he wrote.