U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Videojournalist struck with baton during Beverly Hills protest

Incident Details

Date of Incident
October 31, 2020

Assault

Was the journalist targeted?
Yes
October 31, 2020

Vishal Singh, a videographer who works on Netflix documentaries and has been covering demonstrations in Los Angeles, said he was assaulted by a police officer while reporting on clashes between protest groups in Beverly Hills, California on Oct. 31, 2020.

Singh told the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker he was covering a group of counterprotesters as they marched to a rally held by supporters of President Donald Trump. When the group arrived at the Trump rally, police from Beverly Hills and other departments “immediately surrounded the counterprotesters, as well as journalists, and started advancing, started assaulting,” Singh said. “I was batoned in the back while filming but was wearing a bulletproof vest so I didn’t actually feel it that hard.”

Singh said both the front and back of the vest and his helmet are labeled “PRESS,” and he was carrying two copies of his press pass, with one pinned to the vest.

Singh said that he witnessed Jintak Han, a Los Angeles-based photojournalist, being pushed to the ground by a Beverly Hills officer and helped him up, which can be seen in his footage from that day. The Tracker has documented Han’s assault and the resulting equipment damage here.

“Many journalists were assaulted that day,” Singh said.

Beverly Hills Police Department executive officer Lt. Max Subin told the Tracker that the department had received a complaint from Han, but could not immediately confirm whether Singh had filed one as well. Singh said he has filed multiple complaints, but did not remember whether he had filed one for this incident.

Subin also disputed Singh’s assertion that “many” journalists were assaulted by law enforcement that day. He said that the department has typically had a “great” relationship with the press and that the department is conducting an internal review of excessive use of force.

“There were cases of use of force that day, and the use of force against members of the press will be part of that review,” Subin said.

Singh said that he is pursuing multiple complaints and lawsuits independently and with the National Lawyers Guild.

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