U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

VOA journalist shot at with crowd-control munitions while covering DC protests

Incident Details

Date of Incident
May 31, 2020


Was the journalist targeted?
May 31, 2020

Voice of America journalist Jason Patinkin was shot at with crowd-control munitions while covering a chaos-filled night of protests in Washington, D.C., on May 31, 2020, the third evening of widespread demonstrations in the nation’s capital after the death of George Floyd.

The protests were held in response to a video showing a white police officer kneeling on the neck of Floyd, a Black man, during an arrest in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on May 25. Floyd was pronounced dead at a local hospital. Protests against police brutality and in support of the Black Lives Matter movement have been held across the United States since the end of May.

Patinkin said in an article published by VOA on June 4 that he’d been leaving protests near Lafayette Square around 11 p.m. with another news crew when he heard a loud bang and saw a flash-bang device land near their feet. He then said he saw an officer raise a weapon and fire in their direction. In footage of the incident posted by VOA, the projectile appears to ricochet off the ground. Patinkin told his employer that he felt something hit his flak jacket, near his left shoulder.

Patinkin told VOA that his press credentials were displayed and that it was unclear which agency the officers were with.

“I’ve covered lots of places where there’s been conflict and civil unrest. I’ve seen a lot of disproportionate response and I think that a lot of what the police around the White House have been doing certainly qualifies as both disproportionate and indiscriminate,” Patinkin told VOA in a later article.

VOA did not respond to further requests for comment on this incident as of press time.

D.C. is notable for the large number of different police forces that operate within its borders. Requests for comment from the Metropolitan Police Department and the U.S. Park Police were not returned.

The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker documents journalists 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].