There Was a 1,200% Increase in Journalist Arrests in 2020
Journalists are being arrested at a staggering and alarming rate — part of a larger crackdown on protest in the U.S.
On May 30, 2020, CNN correspondent Omar Jimenez and his camera crew were reporting from Minneapolis on the protests that had erupted in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd. While Jiminez was providing his view from the ground to CNN viewers (and still standing far away from any action that could be considered dangerous), he was approached and arrested by a group of police officers.
While the incident received significant outcry (and millions of views across social media), Jimenez turned out to be only the first of almost two dozen journalists who were arrested in Minnesota that week. Over the course of the year, he was one of over 100 reporters to be arrested while covering Black Lives Matter and election-related protests.
The Jimenez arrest was the start of a disturbing trend: Across the United States, journalists are being arrested for doing their job at a truly unprecedented rate.
A new report, issued by Freedom of the Press Foundation, where I am executive director, details the staggering statistics: at least 117 verified cases of journalists being arrested while doing their job in 2020, with more than a dozen more cases still being investigated. The numbers represent a 1,200% jump in the number of journalists arrested compared with last year.
In fact, more journalists were arrested in one week (May 29- June 4) than in the previous three years combined. And over the course of the year, at least 40 cities saw at least one journalist arrested by police. Around 26% of those arrested were also assaulted by the police while the arrest occurred.
As the report details, the violence from police officers came in many different forms.. For example, HuffPost reporter Christopher Mathias was hit with a baton in the stomach before being arrested in the New York borough of Brooklyn. NBC journalist Simon Moya-Smith was pepper-sprayed as he was…