The National Union of Journalists has condemned yet more attacks on journalists as demonstrators clashed in London on the weekend, with one photographer reportedly left with a broken nose.
The union called for those responsible for the violence and harassment of journalists to be identified and prosecuted. “Such disgraceful and unacceptable behaviour cannot be tolerated,” it said.
In one video shared on Twitter by head of news and politics at Joe.co.uk Oli Dugmore, an injured man, identified as a photographer, can be seen climbing over police barricades seeking aid and protection.
Dugmore said the crowd was “very hostile to any media and reporters”.
The crowd is very hostile to any media and reporters. This photographer is just one example. Looks like a broken nose. pic.twitter.com/kgoXDYaLx4
— Oli Dugmore (@OliDugmore) June 13, 2020
Saturday saw so-called “counter-protesters” clash with Black Lives Matter supporters in the streets of London.
In other videos of the demonstrations, phone cameras are knocked out of the hands of reporters who are filming it.
Thousands of people gathered in London to ‘defend statues’, some got drunk and attacked police and journalists. pic.twitter.com/sWjJp5Gkru
— PoliticsJOE (@PoliticsJOE_UK) June 13, 2020
Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said: “It is clear that many protesters on London’s streets today were thugs spoiling for a fight, who decided to focus their anger at journalists out doing their job.
“It is outrageous and disgraceful that in doing that job, a photographer had his nose broken and was verbally attacked as police brought him to safety.
“Another photographer was hit as protesters hurled barricades at the police, and reporters had their mobile phones knocked out of their hand whilst they were filming.
“Journalists have described the atmosphere as menacing and threatening towards the media.”
The union said some media outlets had advised staff covering the protests not to engage or seek interviews with demonstrators because of the fear of more acts of violence.
Photographer Conall Kearney, who covered the protest and filmed a violent assault on one man outside Waterloo, said that while he wasn’t himself attacked he “felt extremely uncomfortable at times… to the point that I didn’t risk taking my camera out”.
He added: “There was a hostility in the air for the press or anyone even suspected of being press. I witnessed at least three photographers being attacked, with the police having to rush in at one stage to extract them, and heard of other crews having equipment destroyed.
“The Black Lives Matter protest had a more friendly attitude towards press, however, I did overhear some people saying to smash cameras if it did kick off, but I did not witness anything of this sort on Saturday.”
Telegraph reporter Ed Clowes said on Twitter that he had “never seen a protest so hostile to press”, describing one encounter with a protester, who he said grabbed his press badge, as “menacing”.
I’ve never seen a protest so hostile to press.
A black BBC photographer has just been accused of defacing the statue of Winston Churchill.
A demonstrator just grabbed my press badge and had a long, hard look at who I worked for, before nodding and walking off.
— Ed Clowes (@EdClowes) June 13, 2020
Some journalists stayed away from the protests for fear over their own safety.
This is why I'm not at the protests today
Thinking of all the journalists and photographers who are, stay safe https://t.co/TXh0aFYmly
— Lizzie Dearden (@lizziedearden) June 13, 2020
Last week a press photographer was bottled as protesters chanted “fuck the Daily Mail” at Black Lives Matter protests in response to the killing of George Floyd in the US. An Australian journalist was chased down the street and his female colleague was grabbed. A man later pleaded guilty to assault.
The NUJ is calling for the Government to help establish a National Committee for the Safety of Journalists and support the International Federation of Journalists’ draft UN Convention on the safety and independence of journalists and other media professionals.