Journalists get caught in the crossfire as protests over George Floyd’s death intensifies
What started out as an organized protest over the murder of George Floyd by a police officer in the US has gradually morphed into a destabilizing riot with ongoing looting of shops. Currently, the police are way over their heads in containing the situations and have degenerated to the unwarranted attacks on journalists from various news organizations.
Dozens of journalists covering anti-racism that have rocked the US have reported being targets by the police in spite of brandishing their press credentials. Among the barrage of hostilities hurled at these journalists, there has been stern warning and messages from various news platform telling of police brutality against these reporters.
A New York-based group called the Committee to Protect Journalists has decried the act calling it “an unacceptable attempt to intimidate reporters”. Also on Tuesday, the Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison asked his embassy in Washington to investigate the use of force by police against an Australian news crew.
Days prior to the Australian reporters’ incident two members of a TV crew from Reuters were shot with rubber bullets as police dispersed protesters in Minneapolis who defied a curfew stipulation.
A cameraman from BBC suffered a similar fate as he was charged at with a shield by a policeman, and according to BBC’s Americas bureau chief Paul Danahar, “the team had been following all directions from the police as they covered the protest in front of the White House. The assault took place even before the curfew had been imposed and happened without warning or provocation.
Similarly, Fox veteran correspondent Lela Vittert said,
“It’s the most scared I’ve been since being caught in a mob that turned on us in Tahrir Square in the Egyptian capital Cairo” after Fox crew were chased and hit by a mob of masked protesters near the White House.
Other media houses have also issued their own narrative of their ordeal, with the governor of Minnesota Tim Walz on Sunday saying,
” I want to once again extend my deepest apologies, to the journalists who were once again in the middle of this situation who were inadvertently, but nevertheless, detained- to them personally and to the news organizations and to journalists everywhere”.
Most press freedom organizations have joined in the argument and call for a critical look at the police brutality against reporters. The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press said,
“The numerous, targeted attacks that journalists reporting on protests across the country have faced from the law enforcement over the last two nights are both reprehensible and clear violations of the First Amendment”.
In total, the US Press Freedom Tracker, which is a non-profit project, says it is investigating more than 100 press freedom violations at the protest, with about ninety cases involved. There has been a similar recount of events of attacks on journalists which has led them permanently bruised, with several press freedom organizations condemning the attacks.