The Minnesota State Patrol Agency (MSP) has promised not to detain, intimidate or rude to journalists reporting the protests, after some reporters accused officers of harassing and assault they were in rallies in the US city of Minneapolis in the incident murder police by Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old black man.
In a statement on Saturday, the MSP also agreed to stop taking pictures of “journalists or their subscriptions” and said it would not order reporters where they can report on their own. demonstrate.
The pledge comes after media organizations criticized state police and officers from eight other law enforcement agencies in a joint force known as the Operation Safety Net for their treatment of journalists. during protests in the Minneapolis suburbs of the Brooklyn Center on Friday.
Police interfered with journalists’ work even after a judge in the United States issued a temporary restraining order forbidding them from arresting, threatening to arrest or using force against journalists.
USA Today’s cameraman Jasper Colt tweeted that he and other reporters were forced to lie on their stomach on Friday night while police photographed them and their credentials before letting them leave.
After quickly disbanding the protesters in #BrooklynCenterMN Tonight, the police surrounded the members of the media and made us lie on our stomach. They then took a photo of our faces, credentials and IDs before allowing us to leave the siege. pic.twitter.com/v3BUHyvWgV
– Jasper Colt (@jaspercolt) April 17, 2021
“We condemn police action in the Brooklyn Center under the strongest possible terms,” USA Today’s publisher Maribel Perez Wadsworth said in an email to the Associated Press news agency. “Asking journalists to lie on their stomach on the ground and photograph their credentials is a deliberate threat tactic.”
Freelance photographer Tim Evans told the AP that officers surrounded the protesters after the night’s 10 o’clock curfew passed. They rushed into the crowd and started to spray tear gas and kill people, he said.
Evans said an officer punched him in the face and tore off his registration, forcing him to lie on his stomach and press a knee against his back.
“I shouted ‘press.’ He said he didn’t care, ”Evans said.
Photojournalist Tim Evans reports that he was recently murdered, beaten in the face and arrested by soldiers as they fought with protesters outside the central Brooklyn police station. He has his certificate clearly visible around his neck. He’s bruised but it’s okay. pic.twitter.com/KoqVyMh6vW
– Ben Hovland (@benjovland) April 17, 2021
Evans said another officer came and slammed his head to the ground. He was tied up before a third officer freed him and let him leave.
“I am extremely upset,” Evans said. “I feel like they’re targeting journalism in general. I’m out there doing what I’m doing because I have a strong belief in the importance of this job. “
Other journalists posted photos and videos online showing police detaining them while checking their credentials, and in at least one case spraying chemical stimulants.
“We are extremely concerned about the way the media are being treated and have shared those concerns with authorities many times,” said Suki Dardarian, senior management editor and vice president of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. .
The Minnesota American Association for Civil Liberties said the behavior of some officers “went beyond illegal detention to include outright retaliation” against journalists who paid off. Public notification is protected against government intervention by the US Constitution.
‘Better way forward’
The events have prompted some media organizations to ask Minnesota Governor Tim Walz to intervene.
“I convened a meeting today with the media and law enforcement to define a better way to protect journalists covering civil unrest,” Walz said on Twitter today. Saturday.
Free press is the foundation of our democracy. The reporters worked tirelessly during this turbulent year to keep the Minnesotans up to date.
Today, I convened a meeting with the media and law enforcement to define a better path to protect journalists reporting on civil unrest.
– Governor Tim Walz (@GovTimWalz) April 17, 2021
After the meeting, the MSP said it would “not take photos of journalists or their credentials”.
“In addition, the MSP will no longer send field messages advising the media where they can go to safely report events. While journalists have been detained and released into coercive action after providing authentic information, no journalists have been arrested, ”the statement said.
It also said that journalists would be exempt from general dissolution orders issued to protesters, and state police banned from using chemical sprays against the press.
Protests erupted after Wright was killed in a Sunday stop in Central Brooklyn. Former officer Kimberly Potter, who returned his badge on Tuesday, has been charged with manslaughter.
Demonstrators have gathered outside the Brooklyn Central police station every night since the shooting took place, regularly throwing bottles of water and other objects at police behind security guards.
Officers sometimes responded with tear gas, rubber bullets and other ammunition, and often marched in a row to clear the area after curfew or after some protesters approached or tried to find a way. fencing.
Their tactics have received criticism from Brooklyn Center Mayor Mike Elliott, Blacks, and other elected officials around the Twin Cities.
Wright’s death is imminent in Minneapolis as the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin is coming to an end, with debates concluding on Monday. Chauvin was charged with second-degree murder for participating in the deadly arrest last May of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man.