WSJ reporter says NYPD hit him in face, shoved him to ground during protests

May 31, 2020

Tyler Blint-Welsh, a reporter for The Wall Street Journal, said he was hit in the face and shoved to the ground by police while he covered protests in Lower Manhattan on May 31, 2020.

The protest in New York was held in response to a video showing a white police officer kneeling on the neck of George Floyd, a Black man, during an arrest in Minneapolis on May 25. Floyd was pronounced dead at a local hospital. Protests against police violence and in support of the Black Lives Matter movement have been held across the U.S. since the end of May.

Blint-Welsh told the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker that on the evening of May 31 he was walking his bike through a crowd a couple of blocks from Union Square, his New York Police Department-issued press credentials dangling from his neck. He saw police officers in riot gear and with Plexiglas shields a couple rows deep. Protesters faced down the police and refused to leave, he said.

Blint-Welsh said that NYPD played a recording over and over, for about 15 to 20 minutes: “This protest is destructive and violent. We order you to disperse. If you do not disperse, you are subject to arrest.”

In response, the crowd began to chant, “This is a nonviolent protest!”

Suddenly, Blint-Welsh said, the police rushed forward. People screamed and started to run, he said, but he decided it was better if he stayed apart, on a street corner. He left his bike and found himself in a group of people under some scaffolding.

Blint-Welsh said he told an officer, “I’m press!” and raised his hands in the air.

Then, he said, an officer pushed his shield into the journalist’s face, hard, with a corner of the shield tearing his lip and breaking his glasses, which fell from his face. Blint-Welsh said his head was protected by his bike helmet.

The reporter said it felt dangerous to turn and walk away, but when the sidewalk widened, he was able to do so. Blint-Welsh said that’s when a police officer shoved him in the back and he fell, injuring his ankle.

He said he heard an officer yell, “Get ’em!” as if officers were going to jump on him.

At about 11 p.m., Blint-Welsh posted about the assault on Twitter.

The New York City Police Department acknowledged a request to answer questions about the incident, but didn’t reply to further messages.

Blint-Welsh told the Tracker he sought medical attention and was given a medical boot to stabilize his foot.

A spokesman for the New York Police Department said police are looking into the allegation.

“The incident, sadly, is the latest of many across the country in recent days in which we have seen journalists injured, and in some cases targeted, and a reminder of the dangers we face covering the story,” WSJ Editor in Chief Matt Murrray told staff in an email. IAPE, the Journal’s staff union of which Blint-Welsh is a member, also released a statement condemning the assault.

The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker is documenting several hundred incidents of journalists assaulted, arrested, struck by crowd-control ammunition or tear gas, or had their equipment damaged while covering protests across the country. Find these incidents here.

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

Related Incidents

Police shove 1010 WINS reporter during post-election protest in New York

November 5, 2020
Radio journalist Roger Stern was pushed to the ground by New York City police who used bicycles as moving barricades to corral journalists as they covered a Nov. 5, 2020, march in Manhattan according to the journalist’s social media posts. Protests erupted in New York and other cities on Nov. 3, Election Day in the U.S., and continued for days as results for the presidential election trickled in.Stern, a reporter for radio station 1010 WINS, covered the “We Choose Freedom” …

Independent filmmaker arrested while covering anti-ICE protest in New York City

September 19, 2020
Ronald Weaver II, an independent filmmaker, was arrested while covering a protest against immigration policy and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in New York City on Sept. 19, 2020.The protest, which began in Times Square, was prompted by a whistleblower’s allegation that immigrant women held at a privately run detention center in Georgia were forced to undergo hysterectomies. Weaver, a New York-based filmmaker, told the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker the protest was part of a broad protest movement against racial …

Independent journalist shoved by NYPD officer

July 25, 2020
Independent journalist Janet Burns said she was shoved by a police officer while covering a protest in New York City on July 25, 2020.Burns said she was covering a demonstration that night in Lower Manhattan, at the corner of Delancey and Ludlow streets, for NYC Protest Updates 2020, a Twitter account set up by a group of young journalists after the May killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis sparked nationwide protests. The Twitter account has over 40,000 followers and provides …
More related incidents