As Attacks On Protesters and Journalists Increase, Coverage Of Communities And Police Need To Change

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Above photo: Police attacks cameraman from Mediaweek.

The weekend saw escalating police violence against protesters and reporters at nationwide demonstrations against the police killing of George Floyd and systemic racial injustices. There has been an unprecedented number of attacks against journalists at many of these protests as law-enforcement officers have specifically targeted those engaged in First-Amendment protected newsgathering and reporting. This mirrors the ways police are targeting those engaged in First-Amendment protected protest.

President Trump has egged on the police crackdown in a series of recent tweets, including one that labels news outlets covering the protests as the “Enemy of the People.” Reporters and researchers at the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker are investigating more than 100 separate incidents in which officers attacked reporters, permanently blinding a photojournalist in one eye and causing other grave injuries.

Free Press News Voices Organizing Manager Alicia Bell made the following statement:

“Free Press believes in solidarity with the Movement for Black Lives and is committed to protecting the rights and safety of protesters and the reporters who cover these demonstrations. It bears repeating: The First Amendment prevents law enforcement from silencing the voices of protesters and from beating back the journalists who seek to share their concerns with the world.

“It’s not enough to cover the protests via the official podiums of local police departments and politicians. Reporters need to be free to turn their cameras and microphones toward the local organizers who have long engaged in the fight for Black dignity alongside those who are now taking to the streets with legitimate grievances against a system that devalues the lives of our people.

“Rather than allowing law enforcement to control the narrative and vilify Black people, as has been the case too often in the past, journalists have the right to mingle among protesters to document and air their perspectives.

“This moment underscores the importance of deep relationship building between newsrooms and communities. Newsrooms must replace police ride-alongs with community-listening sessions and other intentional tactics for shifting power.  

“Free Press supports the ongoing calls for urgent transformation of a system that puts Black people at risk. Coverage of protests like the ones unfolding across the country is essential to informing the public, exposing official violence and responding to our communities’ needs. Free Press is working with allies to reimagine crime-justice reporting. We’re eager to extend our work with newsrooms committed to deeper engagement — and ultimately, to shifting power away from the anti-Black status quo and toward a shared vision of the future.”

  • IconoclastTwo

    A little something I’ve noticed as a related point: they really softball a lot of storywriting in the MSM by calling just flat-out racist comments “racially charged” or “racially tinged”. Its not like they’re obligated to use expletives to say that someone said something racist-when they absolutely said something racist.

  • NoNameSoSueMe

    They could always enforce the law and put people in jail for beating the crap out of other people. Oh, wait, they’re cops, so I guess that makes it OK. /s

  • SCM

    I’ll feel bad when they jail the ones they don’t kill, then use them as slave labor to fight fires, make clothing, and collect trash like blacks and other poor ppls. Actually if MSM even started covering that I’d feel bad for them – but our press is the 1% and sews division among working class and doesn’t cover stories that matter. Even now they are trying to make this a 100% race issue and get us each other throats and ignoring the class issue and police vicious violence against protesters. I have little sympathy for MSM.

  • Edward Winslow

    Donald Trump, the titular head of the illegal and illegitimate government in Washington DC, takes a page from Stalin’s playbook as he calls those exercising their First Amendment rights, “enemies of the people.”

    We “enemies of the people” must drive Trump and his lickspittles in both corporate parties into the gulags that they built on the backs of the working class..


    I am a policeman. I have lived in y neighborhood since I was 12. I went to school here. My parents are still paying for a modest 2 bedroom house in the same neighborhood. I walk the street and say hello to Mr. Paget and ask him about his arthritis. I ask old lady Julius if I can help her carry her groceries. I know that if I have their back they will have mine. After all, I married a girl who is related to my neighbors.

    NONE OF TH ABOVE IS TRUE. This is the USA, based on racism, separatism and demonstrations of superiority toward others. Until the above paragraph is real, we will continue with the curse of racism and killing of strangers, who may be citizens (or not) but don’t belong to our tribe.

  • Jon

    It is far more likely to BE true in small to medium sized towns. These are relationships that matter and should be nurtured as a buffer against repressive forces higher up.