National Press Club & Journalism Institute back journalists covering protests, denounce arrests and assaults

The National Press Club and the National Press Club Journalism Institute stand in support of all the courageous journalists who have been injured, arrested or come under attack while covering the protests over the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police. 

Journalists have been assaulted by protesters for simply doing their jobs. They have been hit by police projectiles; a television crew in Louisville appeared to be targeted by police and shot with pepper bullets. Journalists have been arrested in Minneapolis and Las Vegas. CNN’s headquarters in Atlanta were defaced and it’s windows broken.

“Journalists often put themselves at risk to report the news. They are witnesses,” said National Press Club President Michael Freedman. “To silence the press is to silence the people, silence accountability and silence the truth.”

“We praise journalists for their courage and their resolve to inform the public,” said Angela Greiling Keane, president of the National Press Club Journalism Institute. “Neither protesters nor police should lay a hand on them as they carry out their constitutional right to bring coverage of the protests to readers and viewers, who deserve to have access to factual and timely information.”

Any law enforcement officer who used force on or improperly arrested a reporter should be held accountable.

Several journalists have been hospitalized after being assaulted by protesters. In Phoenix, a protester shoved reporter Briana Whitney while she was on air. Protesters near the White House struck and chased a Fox News crew. Protesters targeted reporters for Louisville TV station WLKY, setting their news vehicle on fire. Anchor Julie Dolan said on Twitter that the station’s chief photographer “was attacked so badly he had to go to the ER.” 

In some cities, journalists were no safer from police. MSNBC host Ali Velshi reported being hit in the leg by rubber bullets while reporting in Minneapolis. “State police supported by National Guard fired unprovoked into an entirely peaceful rally,” he tweeted.

In Louisville, a WAVE 3 News crew was on the air when a police officer shot at them, apparently with pepper balls. “There is simply no justification for the Louisville police to wantonly open fire, even with pepper balls on any journalist under any circumstances,” the station said in a statement. Police issued an apology.

Two photojournalists in Las Vegas were arrested while photographing the protests. Las Vegas Review-Journal Executive Editor Glenn Cook said Saturday the photojournalists “never should have been touched, let alone arrested and then booked into jail.”

CNN commentator Keith Boykin was arrested in New York while covering protests. He described the arrest in a Twitter post. “I told the police I was with the Press, they walked by me and then turned around and arrested me,” he wrote. In Kansas City, KMBC reporter Bianca Beltran tweeted that police gave her a choice: “…go home or go to jail.” 

“Any officer who used force on or improperly arrested a reporter should be held accountable.”

The National Press Club, the world’s leading professional organization for journalists, represents more than 3,000 reporters, editors and professional communicators worldwide. The National Press Club Journalism Institute, a nonprofit affiliate of the Club, promotes an engaged global citizenry through an independent and free press, and equips journalists with skills and standards to inform the public in ways that inspire civic engagement.

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