Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and foreign minister Marise Payne have demanded an investigation into the attacks by police in Washington, D.C. on two of Australia’s television reporters Monday night. “We have asked the Australian embassy in Washington, DC to investigate this incident,” Payne said. “I want to get further advice on how we would go about registering Australia’s strong concerns with the responsible local authorities in Washington,” she continued, in advance of bringing a formal complaint. The journalists were shoved, clubbed, shot with rubber bullets, and tear gassed. This is what Australian viewers saw on their television last night:
— Sunrise (@sunriseon7) June 1, 2020
The moment our @7NewsAustralia team is attacked by police. Cameraman Tim Myers has covered war zones around the world. Today this is what confronted him and @AmeliaBrace outside the White House pic.twitter.com/KPY0NZIwsm
— Ashlee Mullany (@AshleeMullany) June 1, 2020
These are among the more than 100 incidents in which journalists were specifically and deliberately targeted by police during protests around the nation. The National Press Club is calling on “law enforcement, mayors and governors across the country to halt the unprecedented assault against journalists in the field covering the protests for social justice.”
NiemanLab highlights efforts by numerous journalists and organizations to track the attacks. The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker is investigating more than 100 attacks on journalists in just the last three days, more than they had seen in all of the last three years. From May 28-31, at least 19 journalists were arrested; 36 were shot at by police with rubber bullets, half of them in Minnesota; and 76 reported assaults, including being shot at, with 80% of those attacks by police.
“We are at a crossroads for our nation,” the press organizations wrote in their letter to officials. “Over the past 72 hours police have opened fire with rubber bullets, tear gas, pepper spray, pepper balls and have used nightsticks and shields to attack the working press as never before in this nation. This must stop. This is against all training and best practices of policing.”
“These cities belong to all of us,” the letter continues. “The people that live in them will learn of your bravery and courage and training through news coverage by journalists. Do not fire upon them. Do not arrest them. The world is watching. Let the Press tell the story.” The world is definitely watching.