News

US police who attacked Sunrise journalists placed on administrative duties

Two US police officers have been placed on administrative duties after attacking two Australian journalists covering the protests in response to the death of George Floyd.

Earlier this week, Sunrise reporter Amelia Brace and cameraman Tim Myers were covering a protest outside of the White House in Washington DC when officers began to clear protesters from the area to allow President Donald Trump to walk to a nearby church to pose for photographs holding a Bible.

Police approached the reporters, with one officer smashing a riot shield into Myers’ camera. Brace and Myers began to run, while another officer swung a baton at Brace’s back.

A still image from the incident

Myers was filming when the incident occurred, and the footage aired live on Sunrise on Tuesday morning.

“We’ve been fired at with rubber bullets, my cameraman has been hit,” Brace, Seven’s US correspondent, told hosts David Koch and Samantha Armytage after the police deployed tear gas to clear out protesters, but before the incident.

In the live footage, Brace can be heard shouting “media” as the attack occurs.

“The police just charged at Amelia and our Seven News cameraman there,” Koch explained to viewers.

Once Brace appeared again, she added: “You heard us yelling there that we were media, but they don’t care.”

The day after the attack, Brace appeared again on Sunrise, explaining that she had pain across her shoulders, “where I got whacked with that baton, and we’ve got these welts from those rubber bullets”.

“It was an absolutely terrifying experience,” Brace added in the live-cross, which saw her positioned in front of another police officer holding a baton.

“It’s not just about the media and the fact we were attacked while we were doing our job, it’s about the fact that that was before curfew [many US cities have implemented curfews in response to the demonstrations]. So every single person who was here had a legal right to be here.

“To see these people tear gassed to make way for a photo opportunity for the President, in front of the White House in the United States of America, is outrageous.”

The US Park Police has now confirmed the incident will be investigated, after Prime Minister Scott Morrison called upon Australian ambassador to the United States, Arthur Sinodinos, to seek an investigation.

“As is consistent with our established practices and procedures, two U.S Park Police officers have been assigned to administrative duties, while an investigation takes place regarding the incident with the Australian Press,” the statement read.

Opposition leader Anthony Albanese labelled the attacks on media as “completely unacceptable” – dozens of journalists have been arrested, hit with projectiles including rubber bullets, and assaulted while reporting on the protests – and US ambassador to Australia, Arthur B Culvahouse Jr, said: “Freedom of the press is a right Australians and Americans hold dear.

“We take mistreatment of journalists seriously, as do all who take democracy seriously.”

Protests have been carried out across all 50 US states in response to the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died after a police officer pushed his knee into Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes.

The officer who kneeled on Floyd, along with the other three officers present, have all been charged.

ADVERTISEMENT

Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella newsletter now.

 

SUBSCRIBE

Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing.