Unifor, Canada’s largest media union, condemns violence against media crews across the U.S. Journalists reporting on the street protests against the abhorrent, racist murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer are being physically attacked, mostly by police but also by citizens.
An African-American CNN reporter was arrested by State Troopers on live TV, in a viral video that leaves little doubt the police had zero respect for freedom of the press; the Governor of Minnesota has since apologized. In Louisville, where Kentucky residents marched in protest over the police shooting of Breonna Taylor, police deliberately shot pepper spray bullets at a local reporter. In Phoenix, a local TV reporter doing a live report was assaulted by a demonstrator who grabbed her microphone and shouted an all too common misogynist slur. That’s just a sample of a long list of recent incidents.
In a country where the President attacks the media almost daily, putting the safety of journalists at risk, this disturbing trend is going in a very dangerous direction.
Journalists are among the guardians of our democracy. Reporting on civil unrest over racism and police brutality is essential to our struggle against these enormous problems. Independently documenting what happens on the streets between police and protesters is a public service. Holding the powerful to account by being the eyes and ears of the citizenry is part of the journalist job description, it is not a crime.
Unifor stands by journalists at home and abroad and we demand that everyone, especially the police, respect their safety and their very lives.