A photographer for media organizations in New York was pushed to the ground by a police officer in Syracuse while covering a protest on Monday despite wearing a press badge.
Video shot by Dennis Nett for Syracuse.com shows Nett being pushed by a police officer who was part of a line of officers in riot gear advancing on protesters in a different direction. In the video, Nett is being seen ordered to move back before an officer breaks rank and charges him, shoving him to the ground.
“Move back! Move back!” various officers are heard yelling in the video before Nett is shoved.
Officials with Advance Media New York, owners of two media organizations for which Nett has worked for decades, slammed his treatment at the hands of Syracuse police in a statement.
“The community relies on journalists like Dennis to document what’s happening in breaking news situations like the protests on Saturday night,” said Trish LaMonte, the company’s vice president of content. “He was just doing the job he has every right to do when he was physically and unjustifiably attacked by an officer. It’s troubling behavior, and city officials need to assure us it will not be tolerated.”
Police officials said in a statement that the incident would be investigated, while noting that the department typically works to allow media access to news events when possible.
“The chief’s office has been made aware of a video that has surfaced that appears to show physical contact between SPD and a reporter from syracuse.com from the violent protests on Saturday night,” police chief Kenon Buckner told Syracuse.com in an email. “We are in the process of reviewing the incident. As a practice, SPD has always tried to provide reasonable access to media to do their jobs when appropriate.”
One witness told the news site that Nett appeared to be shoved particularly hard by the officer.
“He pushed him really hard,’’ Clifford Ryans, a local anti-violence activist, told Syracuse.com. “He hit the ground pretty hard, like you know when you shove someone off your feet.”
Journalists across the country have reported injuries or arrests at the hands of officers while covering the protests over the death of George Floyd, a black Minneapolis man who died in police custody after video showed an officer kneeling on his neck for several minutes.
CNN’s Oscar Jimenez was arrested live on-air during a news report and later released. Police later contended on Twitter that Jimenez and two other CNN journalists were released after they were identified as members of the news media, while CNN said in a statement that the three clearly identified themselves prior to their arrests.
“[O]ur CNN crew identified themselves, on live television, immediately as journalists,” CNN said in a tweet. “We thank Minnesota @GovTimWalz for his swift action this morning to aid in the release of our crew.”