U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

WLS-TV photographer assaulted, phones stolen, vehicle damaged

Incident Details

August 8, 2023

A photographer for WLS-TV was assaulted and robbed while preparing to cover a press conference in the East Garfield Park neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois, on Aug. 8, 2023.

CWBChicago reported that the photographer was approached at approximately 2 p.m. by two men asking for money. When the journalist replied that he didn’t have any, one of the men tried to grab his phone. The photographer pushed the man away and put his phone into a vehicle from the news station’s fleet, but the man then shoved him to the ground.

The Chicago Police Department told the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker that the victim, who they did not identify, was able to run away. The second man broke the vehicle’s window and took two phones from inside before both men fled the scene.

WLS confirmed that one of its photographers was assaulted and robbed, reporting that he was “fine and suffered only minor scrapes.” The station’s general manager did not respond to an emailed request for additional information.

The Chicago police said that the incident is classified as an attempted strong-arm robbery with theft, simple battery and criminal damage to a vehicle, and is still under investigation.

Less than three weeks later, a Univision Chicago news crew was also robbed, this time at gunpoint, and one of the station’s cameras was taken.

Raza Siddiqui, president of the National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians Local 41, which represents TV photographers in Chicago, told the Chicago Sun-Times that the union is arranging a safety meeting for members to voice concerns about the dangers they are increasingly facing.

“We want to make sure that we provide a longer-lasting solution, that we work not only with management but our members, and make sure that we read some protocols that everyone is happy with and feels can be a workable solution,” Siddiqui said.

Some Chicago news stations have begun to implement additional security measures in the meantime, Siddiqui added, including hiring security for some TV crews.

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