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America’s Cops Must Stop Attacking Journalists

Armed to the teeth and encouraged by elected officials, American police are targeting journalists covering the US protests as if the Constitution didn't exist. Clearly, "qualified immunity" has run amok, as many of those demonstrating against systemic racism and police brutality can attest.

WASHINGTON, DC – It is no surprise that journalists would go out to the streets to cover the largest and most widespread protests the United States has experienced in more than 50 years. What has been surprising is that journalists would meet with violence and retaliation at the hands of the police, just for doing their jobs.

Since the start of the demonstrations against systemic racism and police brutality that have swept the US in the wake of the death of George Floyd, there have been more than 380 reported incidents of anti-press violence. While some have involved journalists being caught in the melee of violent protests and rioting, the vast majority – around 80% – appear to have been perpetrated by law enforcement, according to the US Press Freedom Tracker.

These flagrant violations of press freedom have been as widespread as the protests themselves, with reports coming from 61 communities in 33 states. The police behind these attacks are failing to abide by the law and uphold the US Constitution. Journalists who have clearly identified themselves, presented press credentials, and carried professional equipment have been assaulted, arrested, and shot at anyway. Determining just how prevalent these targeted attacks have been will be critical for addressing the broader problem of police impunity.