US police shoot rubber bullets at Swiss journalists

A makeshift memorial at the place where George Floyd died in Minneapolis. Associated Press

Three Swiss television journalists say that they were shot at with rubber bullets by police during a demonstration in the United States city of Minneapolis last weekend. Nobody was hurt.

This content was published on May 6, 2020 - 11:23
SRF/Keystone-SDA/ilj

The team, made up of Gaspard Kühn from French-language public television RTS, Max Herber from the Italian-language service RSI and cameraman Jean-Pascal Azaïs was reporting on ongoing anti-racism demonstrations in the city following the death of African-American George Floyd at the hands of a police officer.  

According to a report by German-language public television SRF on Friday, the incident happened last Saturday, shortly after 8pm. Kühn told the SRF radio programme “Heute Morgen” that the team was trying to leave the area where protests were taking place. They approached the police, showing their press passes and calling out that they were journalists, asking for safe passage. Police told the men to “back up”, Kühn said, and then shot rubber bullets at them. 

Nationwide protests and press freedom violations

Floyd's death last week after a fatal encounter with a police officer in Minneapolis has led to nationwide protests as well as demonstrations around the world, including in Switzerland. There are currently curfews in around 40 US cities, but journalists are exempt from these, SRF reported.  

American journalism organisations have reported numerous incidents involving police and reporters, including attacks and arrests. The US Press Freedom tracker site and Twitter feed is keeping a tally. There have also been reports of attacks by protestors on journalists, SRF said. 

“We have to report from the ground about the views of both the protestors and the police. If we can’t do that anymore, then we’re no longer living in a democracy,” Kühn said.  

The organisation Reporters Without Borders has called the violence against journalists covering protests in the US “unprecedented”. 

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