FCC chairman Ajit Pai issued a statement Sunday as broadcasters continued to put themselves in harm's way to cover the protests, violence and looting that has broken out in the wake of the death of George Floyd six days ago.
“I commend the extraordinary efforts of local broadcasters to keep Americans informed about the protests and violence taking place in our nation’s cities following the awful killing of George Floyd," he said.
He did not cite any particular incident, but a law enforcement officer in Louisville, Kentucky, appeared to fire what were described as pepper bullets directly at a WAVE-TV Louisville news crew, an incident that drew the condemnation of the National Association of Broadcasters and the SAG-AFTRA union.
Louisville Police later apologized for the incident, according to the station, and a spokesperson said the video would be reviewed "for potential discipline."
WLKY-TV Louisville also tweeted that its chief photojournalist was attacked:
Just found out our chief photographer was attacked so badly he had to go to the ER. Deni was with him and also attacked. Their WLKY station car was completely destroyed #LouisvilleProtests https://t.co/DsP4Fnuc4gMay 30, 2020
At WIS-TV Columbia, S.C., reporter Miranda Parnell, was hit by a rock, tweeting video as she left the scene, bloodied but still reporting:
We’re out ✌🏽@wis10 pic.twitter.com/PEmixzVuWoMay 30, 2020
In Pittsburgh, KDKA-TV photojournalist Ian Smith said that he was both threatened and attacked by protesters and saved by protesters, tweeting a picture of himself inside an ambulance.
I’m was attacked by protestors downtown by the arena. They stomped and kicked me. I’m bruised and bloody but alive. My camera was destroyed. Another group of protesters pulled me out and saved my life. Thank you! @KDKA pic.twitter.com/clyANKodthMay 30, 2020
Brianna Whitney, who reports for KTVK and KPHO TV Phoenix, was accosted on air and a security guard protecting station crews was attacked during a live shot.
Our security guard got attacked while protecting us during our live shot. We’re getting him some help right now #azfamily pic.twitter.com/kIKxJpGI8DMay 31, 2020
"Those who work for local television and radio stations are often putting themselves at personal risk to serve the public interest, and they must be allowed to do their jobs without being threatened or attacked," Pai said. "I hope that they and all Americans stay safe.”
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