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As Trump blames ‘lamestream media,’ journalists arrested and injured during protests

A police officer engages with a protester in Santa Monica.
Police officers and protesters at a Santa Monica protest.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Friday’s arrest of CNN correspondent Omar Jimenez by Minnesota state police on live TV was just the beginning.

Jimenez and his television crew were in Minneapolis reporting on the protests over the killing of George Floyd, the 46-year-old black man who died May 25 after a white police officer pinned him down at the neck until he stopped breathing. The incident was caught on video by a bystander.

The police officer, Derek Chauvin, was arrested and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter on Friday, after days of protests. Chauvin and the three other officers involved have been fired from the department. On Monday, the results of an autopsy commissioned by Floyd’s family found that he died of asphyxiation due to neck and back compression.

President Trump was taken to a bunker on Friday as hundreds of protesters gathered outside the White House. Two days later, he blamed journalists for some of the nationwide unrest.

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“The Lamestream Media is doing everything within their power to foment hatred and anarchy,” Trump tweeted Sunday. “As long as everybody understands what they are doing, that they are FAKE NEWS and truly bad people with a sick agenda, we can easily work through them to GREATNESS!”

Minneapolis police backed an L.A. Times reporter and photographer against a wall and fired tear gas and rubber bullets at point blank range

As protests continued across the country over the weekend, many journalists covering the events reported being attacked, injured or arrested.

Times reporter Molly Hennessy-Fiske and photographer Carolyn Cole were among a group of journalists who were hit with tear gas and rubber bullets by Minnesota police on Saturday.

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“There were at least a dozen of us there,” Hennessy-Fiske said in a video she posted to Twitter following the incident. “We identified ourselves as press, and they fired tear gas canisters on us at point-blank range.”

Hennessy-Fiske, who has reported from multiple protests as well as war zones, wrote it was the first time she had been fired at by police.

On Monday, the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker posted on Twitter that it was investigating more than 100 incidents from May 28-31 including at least 36 reports of journalists “being shot at by police with projectiles such as rubber bullets” and at least 19 arrests. The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker is a national database for incidents of press freedom violations.

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Local journalists have also reported being hit by less-lethal ammunition as they covered the protests. On Saturday, Times photographer Luis Sinco posted a photo on Twitter of his camera hit by an LAPD rubber bullet. KPCC and LAist reporter Adolfo Guzman-Lopez reported Sunday that “a police officer aimed and shot [him] in the throat” while covering the protests in Long Beach that day.

The Committee to Protect Journalists issued a statement Saturday condemning these attacks.

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“Targeted attacks on journalists, media crews, and news organizations covering the demonstrations show a complete disregard for their critical role in documenting issues of public interest and are an unacceptable attempt to intimidate them,” said CPJ Program Director Carlos Martínez de la Serna. “Authorities in cities across the U.S. need to instruct police not to target journalists and ensure they can report safely on the protests without fear of injury or retaliation.”

Journalists have also reported being attacked by protesters and others attending the demonstrations. In L.A., KNX’s Pete Demetriou reported being “punched by about 5 people” at Saturday’s protest. The same day, Briana Whitney, a correspondent for an Arizona CBS affiliate, was reporting live from Phoenix when she was tackled by a someone from the assembled crowd. In Louisville, Ky., local broadcast news journalists were attacked by both police and protesters over the weekend.

Here’s a sampling of these reported incidents:

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