Over the past week, demonstrations protesting the murder of George Floyd have taken place in many major US cities – and have even inspired protests in international cities such as Paris, London and Athens. During the US protests there have been numerous reports of police brutality (opens in new tab) against protestors. However, photographers and journalists have also been in the firing line as well.
Freelance photographer Linda Tirado was covering the protests in Minneapolis on Friday, 29 May when she was hit in the left eye by a projectile, which she believes was a rubber bullet fired by the police. While she'd previously donned goggles to protect her eyes, they had slipped down when she'd been running from tear gas.
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Hey folks, took a tracer found to the face (I think, given my backpack) and am headed into surgery to see if we can save my left eyeAm wisely not gonna be on Twitter while I’m on morphineStay safe folks pic.twitter.com/apZOyGrcBOMay 30, 2020
Tirado was carried away by protestors and brought to hospital, where she was taken into surgery within the hour. While the doctors tried to save her full vision, Tirado was subsequently informed that she is now unfortunately permanently blind in her left eye.
In an interview (opens in new tab) with The New York Times, Tirado said: "I was aiming my next shot, put my camera down for a second, and then my face exploded. I immediately felt blood and was screaming, 'I'm press! I'm press!… I would say there is no way that anyone had looked at me and not known that I am a working journalist. That said, police have been pretty clear that they don't care if you are [a] working journalist."
Linda Tirado hasn't been the only member of the press targeted by police. Minnesota police arrested a CNN team (opens in new tab) on live television, with journalist Omar Jimenez taken into police custody even after clearly identifying himself to the officers.
With no sign of protests slowing down, any photographers planning to attend future demonstrations should stay alert. This excellent article (opens in new tab) from Teen Vogue has some useful tips on how to film police safely. While most of the advice centers around using a smartphone to record video, it can also be easily applied to photographers as well.
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