Minneapolis: journalists teargassed while covering George Floyd protests

Teargas fired ‘at point-blank range’ at group that identified themselves as journalists as police worked to impose curfew

Several journalists reporting on the protests in Minneapolis on Saturday were teargassed as police worked to impose an evening curfew, just a day after a CNN reporter in the city was arrested live on air.

Molly Hennessy-Fiske, a Los Angeles Times journalist reporting outside the fifth police precinct in Minneapolis, said she was standing with a group of roughly a dozen journalists when Minnesota state patrol “fired teargas canisters on us at point-blank range”.

Hennesy-Fiske said the group had clearly identified themselves as journalists, and asked the officers where they should move to. “They did not tell us where to go. They didn’t direct us. They just fired on us,” she said in a video shared on Twitter. She added she had been hit in the leg.

Minnesota State Patrol just fired tear gas at reporters and photographers at point blank range. pic.twitter.com/r7X6J7LKo8

— Molly Hennessy-Fiske (@mollyhf) May 31, 2020

Protests went out in Minneapolis for the fifth night in a row, following the death of George Floyd in police custody on Monday. Minneapolis authorities on Friday had imposed a nighttime curfew, which many protesters violated. The Minnesota governor on Saturday announced the deployment of the state national guard to the city to enforce the curfew.

Minneapolis saw running confrontations between protesters and police throughout the night, with authorities apparently taking a much harder line to enforce a curfew than they had during violence on Friday. Hennessy-Fiske was one of several journalists reporting injuries or arrests.

The MSNBC journalist Ali Velshi said he was hit in the leg by a rubber bullet. “State police supported by national guard fired unprovoked into an entirely peaceful rally,” he said.

BREAKING: A veteran WCCO photographer is under arrest, taken into custody by the State Patrol. Award-winning photographer Tom Aviles was struck by a rubber bullet. | https://t.co/ni1IFuZ5ZG pic.twitter.com/FYhb54mCAZ

— WCCO - CBS Minnesota (@WCCO) May 31, 2020

A photographer with WCCO, a local CBS station, was arrested and taken into custody by state patrol. The station published video of the arrest, which showed the photographer, Tom Aviles, attempting to follow police’s orders, asking the officers where he should go and repeatedly saying he was with WCCO, until police took him down to the ground and arrested him.

Aviles was also hit with a rubber bullet, the station reported, adding: “We’ve called our CBS attorneys, and they’re working on freeing him.” WCCO’s article on the arrest said veteran producer Joan Gilbertson was also with Aviles, and that a patrolman told her: “You’ve been warned, or the same thing will happen to you. Or you’re next. Gilbertson picked up Aviles’ camera and recorded what happened.

Later in the evening, Ryan Faircloth, a reporter for the Star Tribune, said officers blew out his car window with some kind of rubber bullet. “The glass shattered into my face and body. I’m bleeding from the side of my face and down my left arm,” he wrote. Faircloth said he was trying to get out of the area when officers fired on his car, causing glass to explode and his vehicle to fill with smoke.

Michael Anthony Adams, a reporter with Vice in Minneapolis, tweeted a video that captured him repeatedly shouting that he was press and showing his media ID before an officer forced him on the ground and another one pepper-sprayed him in the face.

The state patrol did not immediately comment on their claims.

In Los Angeles, at least two reporters said they were hit by police while covering the demonstrations. And in New York, two reporters appeared to have been arrested.


Sam Levin in Los Angeles

The GuardianTramp

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