The National Association of Broadcasters has called for a "swift investigation" into a police officer who fired pepper balls at a local TV reporter covering a protest in Louisville, Kentucky, Friday night (May 29). SAG-AFTRA also condemned the police action.
WAVE TV reported that Kaitlin Rust appeared to have been hit by the pepper balls--originally they were thought to be rubber bullets--as she was doing a live report.
In addition, a WAVE news vehicle was vandalized during the unrest.
The officer appeared to be aiming directly at Rust, who said on-air she was was fine and that her crew had been behind the police line when the officer appeared to aim directly at them.
“NAB condemns the actions of the Louisville police officer who fired pepper balls at a local TV crew legally covering downtown protests on Friday night," said NAB President Gordon Smith. "No police officer has the right to fire any type of ammunition at journalists who are simply doing their jobs and appropriately positioned to cover the news. NAB calls for a swift investigation of this incident to ensure that journalists have the necessary protections to report the news.”
"SAG-AFTRA condemns the reprehensible actions of this police officer who, without provocation or justification, fired upon journalists who were doing their jobs," added the union, which represents broadcasters among others. "The assault also had a traumatizing effect on viewers at home who watched the officer aim and fire repeatedly during the live broadcast.
"This was a brazen attack on two unarmed citizens. It is also an attack on our democracy and the people’s right to know how those on whom we confer power are using that power.
"Whether perpetrated by the public or by the state, acts of violence on journalists bringing news to the communities they serve are a betrayal of our nation’s founding principle that a free press is necessary for the maintenance of a free government."
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