U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Videographer assaulted, coughed on by individual at anti-vaccination protest

Incident Details

January 31, 2021

Independent videographer Sean Beckner-Carmitchel said he was confronted and assaulted by an unidentified man while he was reporting in Los Angeles at the site of a planned anti-vaccination demonstration on Jan. 31, 2021.

Beckner-Carmitchel tweeted that when he arrived at the scene in West Hollywood in the early afternoon, only about three people had shown up to protest against lockdown rules and COVID-19 vaccinations, while about 15 counterprotesters were there. He shared a video of a verbal confrontation between several anti-lockdown protesters and counterprotesters, but noted that no violence had occurred.

"One man, who arrived after the verbal confrontation earlier, took issue with being filmed," Beckner-Carmitchel tweeted alongside a video he posted at 3:30 p.m. "He put himself near me, coughed in my face and threw my equipment down then attempted further assault."

In the video, the man repeatedly asks why Beckner-Carmitchel is following him. Beckner-Carmitchel responds that he has the right to film in a public space and asks the man to step back. The video shows the man continues to come closer and loudly coughs at Beckner-Carmitchel, who continues filming as the man walks away. The man is then seen turning back toward the videographer; he says "Keep it up" then reaches forward and slams the camera to the ground.

Beckner-Carmitchel told the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker he wore National Press Photographers Association credentials around his neck and sustained injuries to his hand as well as "some intense bruising to the right forearm."

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