Journalists accuse Minnesota State Troopers of assaulting them during the George Floyd demonstrations.
Two Los Angeles Times journalists are suing Minnesota State Patrol troopers, alleging that they were attacked even after identifying themselves as journalists during last summer’s George Floyd protests.
Carolyn Cole, a Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist, and Molly Hennessey-Fiske, the Houston Bureau Chief, claimed in a lawsuit filed Tuesday night in U.S. District Court that troopers cornered them against a brick wall and assaulted them with blunt objects, tear gas, and chemical spray.
Following Floyd’s death, the two went to Minneapolis to cover the city’s rising protests, which began in May.
Members of the press said that they were targeted by law enforcement officers who allegedly used crowd-control measures, smashed equipment, and arrested journalists in the weeks that followed.
In a statement to the Star Tribune, Andrew Noel, an attorney for the journalists, said, “Carolyn and Molly came to Minneapolis to document a defining event in American history.”
“They, like many other members of the press, were unjustly targeted by our state’s top law enforcement agency. “It’s startling to see how the state troopers in this case disregarded the First and Fourth Amendments,” Noel added.
On May 30, Cole and Hennessey-Fiske joined a group of reporters across the street from demonstrators outside the Fifth Precinct police headquarters, according to Cole and Hennessey-Fiske. They claimed troopers approached them and informed them that the city’s 8 p.m. curfew had been implemented and that the throng should disperse.
Gov. Tim Walz, on the other hand, exempted the media from the curfew, stating that journalists needed to be able to securely chronicle the events.
Even after the reporters showed the troopers their press permits, police officers continued to “move on the press gathering and then start firing — spraying members of the press with pepper spray and shooting them with 40-millimeter blunt-impact pellets” until the group was cornered.
Cole sustained a corneal abrasion as well as chemical burns to her eyes and skin, according to her. The photographer is seen crouching in a brick corner, bathed in poisonous liquid, and crying in pain in a photo obtained by the Tribune from the legal lawsuit.
Hennessy-Fiske claimed that at least five projectiles struck her legs, causing bruises and blood. This is a condensed version of the information.