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Photographer permanently blinded in one eye after covering Minneapolis protests

Photographer permanently blinded in one eye after covering Minneapolis protests
(Image credit: NurPhoto / Getty)

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 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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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 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 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 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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  • Chaos_N_Mayhem
    The phrase "attacks from police..." is completely wrong here. The police were doing their jobs trying to disperse a rioting mob. Journalists and photographers know the risks when they cover situations like this.
    Reply
  • Ted Ever
    Why are we calling this incident a protest? I guess the author of this item thinks looting and arson, as well as assaults on police, are some forms of protest. The first amendment to the constitution guarantees the people the right to "peaceably" assemble and petition the government. Looting, tossing molotov cocktails, bricks, bottles and the like is hardly part of a protest. It's rioting and the police will respond with the force required to quell the violence. If you're a participant in this activity, you assume the risks. There's a reason war correspondents report from behind the lines of confrontation.
    Reply
  • Mgradyc
    With regard to covering law enforcement, the first thing they used to teach in journalism School is that the press is not afforded any special protection or privilege under the First Amendment. If an officer wants to give you such, that is fine. Many PJs have good working relationships with law enforcement officers and other first responders in their communities and are sometimes allowed beyond the yellow tape to cover incidents. But they are not required to grant such special access under the First Amendment.

    You have the same rights and responsibilities as any other citizen.

    If you are in an area that police order everyone out of, you must comply along with everyone else or suffer the same consequences as everyone else. If law enforcement reasonably believes you are interfering with the performance of their duties and request you to back off and you do not comply, they can and often do arrest you.
    Reply
  • fsuscotphoto
    admin said:
    As protests continue in the US, photographers and journalists are left vulnerable to attacks from police

    Photographer permanently blinded in one eye after covering Minneapolis protests : Read more
    "Targeted by police"? Give me a break!!! If you are going to take the side of the rioters I'm done with this website. UNBELIEVABLE!!!
    Reply
  • Chaos_N_Mayhem
    fsuscotphoto said:
    "Targeted by police"? Give me a break!!! If you are going to take the side of the rioters I'm done with this website. UNBELIEVABLE!!!

    It looks like the article has now been edited to remove the offensive part. I hope the author got reprimanded for it!
    Reply