U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Videographer assaulted at NY migrant housing protest

Incident Details

Date of Incident
September 5, 2023
New York, New York


Was the journalist targeted?

A man seeks to block news videographer Lukasz Matyja from capturing footage of protesters haranguing another photographer at a rally in Staten Island, New York.

September 5, 2023

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.

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