It’s how I remember it — like being tossed around in the ocean and then slammed into rock pic.twitter.com/G3rfCR1NiI
— Josie Huang (@josie_huang) September 14, 2020
According to the the police, NPR and LAist reporter Josie Huang didn’t have press credentials, didn’t identify herself as a reporter, and refused to leave an area when told to do so. In reality, Huang says she was wearing a lanyard with a press credential and the video shows Huang backing away from police at their orders and repeatedly yelling “I’m a reporter,” even as a group of deputies throw her violently to the ground, ultimately arresting her and charging her with obstruction.
Huang had been at a news conference outside a hospital, reporting on the shooting ambush of two L.A. Sheriff’s deputies. Afterward, she heard shouting and went to see what was going on, she recounted in a Twitter thread. She recorded as some men taunted deputies, who then followed them as they left. Using her phone’s zoom function to allow herself to maintain physical distance, she recorded as the deputies arrested one man. Then, “I was filming an arrest when suddenly deputies shout ‘back up.’ Within seconds, I was getting shoved around. There was nowhere to back up.”
Huang was thrown to the ground and arrested—describing the experience as “like being tossed around in the ocean and then slammed into rock”—with deputies refusing to allow her to put her mask back on or put her shoe back on her bleeding foot. Her camera recorded throughout, even as deputies stepped on and kicked it, and there’s also video from other reporters on the scene.
Here’s how the sheriff’s office described the arrest. Supposedly, as deputies were making an arrest, “a female adult ran towards the deputies, ignored repeated commands to stay back as they struggled with the male and interfered with the arrest.” She “did not identify herself as press,” according to the department, “and later admitted she did not have proper press credentials on her person.” All of this is lies, and the department has had no comment since video revealed those lies.
”We hold the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department accountable to provide answers for the excessive use of force in the detainment of our colleague,” the Asian American Journalists Association said in a statement. “The Los Angeles chapter of AAJA demands an investigation and apology for her arrest. We will not stand idly by as the mistreatment of journalists, especially journalists of color, continues by law enforcement.”
L.A. County Inspector General Max Huntsman, who is investigating the incident, told The Los Angeles Times: “That’s what surprises me the most is that once she was identified as a reporter that they transported her, that they cited her.”
It shouldn’t be surprising, though, given the frequency with which law enforcement has intentionally targeted reporters this summer, and the continuing vilification of the press by a national leader who is outright encouraging summary execution by law enforcement of people he considers enemies.