Journalists covering nationwide protests over the death of a black man at police hands in Minneapolis have found themselves under attack by police and at times by protesters.
The arrest and handcuffing Friday of a black CNN journalist by police in Minneapolis even as he was reporting live on camera following the death of George Floyd may have drawn the widest coverage.
The journalist, Omar Jimenez, was released an hour later after the Minnesota governor personally intervened.
But there have been several other serious incidents across the country, notably in Louisville, Kentucky, where a riot-squad policeman fired what appeared to be pepper-spray pellets at a local TV crew filming the scene.
"I'm getting shot!" Kaitlin Rust, a reporter with local TV channel WAVE-3, cried out on camera.
And in Minneapolis, freelance journalist Linda Tirado was struck in the left eye by a rubber bullet fired by police and said later on Twitter that she had permanently lost vision in that eye.
"Authorities in cities across the US need to instruct police not to target journalists and ensure they can report safely on the protests without fear of injury or retaliation," said a statement from the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).
Two members of a Reuters TV crew were hit by rubber bullets and a photographer's camera was smashed in Minneapolis on Saturday night as attacks against journalists covering civil unrest in U.S. cities intensified.
Footage taken by cameraman Julio-Cesar Chavez showed a police officer aiming directly at him as police fired rubber bullets, pepper spray and tear gas to disperse about 500 protesters in the southwest of the city shortly after the 8 p.m. curfew.
"A police officer that I'm filming turns around points his rubber-bullet rifle straight at me," said Chavez.
Minutes later, Chavez and Reuters security adviser Rodney Seward were struck by rubber bullets as they took cover at a nearby gas station.
On footage captured as they ran for safety, several shots are heard ringing out and Seward yells, "I've been hit in the face by a rubber bullet."
Asked about the incident, Minneapolis Police Department spokesman John Elder requested a copy of the video, which Reuters subsequently provided. The department didn't respond to an email Sunday.
"We strongly object to police firing rubber bullets at our crew in Minneapolis and are addressing the situation with the authorities," a Reuters spokesperson said Sunday.
"It was clear that both our reporter and security advisor were members of the press and not a threat to public order. Journalists must be allowed to report the news without fear of harassment or harm," the spokesperson said.
At least another 15 members of the news media were injured Saturday in incidents where police fired rubber bullets or tear gas, according to a tally by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.
Members of the media have also come under attack by protesters. At least another six were hurt in attacks by protesters or unidentified assailants, according to the organization, and journalists from CNN, CBS and the Huffington Post were arrested. In Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, photographer Ian Smith said he was subjected to a beating until other demonstrators came to his defense.
In Atlanta, the headquarters of news network CNN was attacked Friday by several dozen people. Someone in the crowd lobbed a flash grenade into the building's lobby as police stood guard there.
And on Saturday morning, a Fox News journalist who was reporting from a position in front of the White House was pummeled and chased by demonstrators until police intervened.
"If you are a protester, do what you feel is right, but don't stop us from doing what we know is the job we have to do for the public. Please do not target, intimidate, humiliate or block our efforts," said a statement from the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ).
President Donald Trump has frequently targeted the news media as a source of what he calls "fake news," claiming without evidence that the media invent stories intended to harm him.
Following the attack on the CNN building in Atlanta, the president retweeted a supporter's post that seemed to gloat about the incident: "In an ironic twist of fate, CNN HQ is being attacked by the very riots they promoted as noble & just. Oops."
He has regularly denounced the press as "enemies of the people," and has often singled out CNN as a favorite target.
Media critics and commentators say such language can have the effect, at least among fringe elements, of encouraging violence against journalists.
Reuters photographer Lucas Jackson, who was hit by rubber bullets in Minneapolis on Friday night, had his camera smashed on Saturday by a protester wielding a crowbar.
He said that the demonstrator, a young white man wearing body armor emblazoned with a red medic cross, screamed, "Get out of here!' before smashing the camera.
Jackson, a veteran photographer who covered protests in Ferguson, Missouri, and Baltimore, Maryland, said members of the press appeared to be targeted.
"Usually if you get hit by this stuff it's because you are between the police and the protesters – you're taking the risk by being in the middle," Jackson said. "During this they are actually aiming at us."
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