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Wed, 8 July 2020

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By Sarah Champion MP and Pauline Latham MP
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UK raises police treatment of British journalists at George Floyd protests with Trump administration

UK raises police treatment of British journalists at George Floyd protests with Trump administration

The UK is raising the issue of press treatment by police with the US (PA)

2 min read

British diplomats have raised the treatment of journalists at the hands of police while they report on the George Floyd protests with the White House.

The UK’s embassy in Washington has spoken with the Donald Trump administration after rising anger over how the media is being treated at Black Lives Matter demonstrations across America.

British photographer Adam Gray, who works for news agency SWNS, became one of the first journalists to be charged for covering the protests when he was thrown to the ground by several officers in New York last weekend.

He was arrested and forced him into handcuffs, despite showing the press pass issued to him by the US State Department at the UN Plaza.

And on Sunday in Washington DC a riot police officer charged his shield at a BBC cameraman, one of more than 100 incidents involving members of the press in recent days. 

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman discussed the matter after being asked about whether Boris Johnson had responded to Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer’s letter calling on him to challenged Mr Trump over his response to the unrest.

"Our embassy in the US has raised the issue of the protests with the US administration including on behalf of some British journalists who were the subject of police action,” the spokesman said.

"We've said from the beginning of the protests that journalists must be free to do their job without the fear of arrest or violence."

On whether Mr Johnson would speak out further he added: “The PM and the Foreign Secretary have both spoken publicly to condemn the death of George Floyd, to express concern at the violence we have seen, and to underline people's right to protest peacefully.”

Britain is not the only country to raise the matter after the Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison asked his embassy in Washington to investigate the use of force by police after a cameraman was punched by an officer as they dispersed protesters near the White House.

The US Press Freedom Tracker says it is investigating more than 100 "press freedom violations" at the protests, with reporters arrested, shot at with rubber bullets and sprayed with tear gas.

And the issue was brought to global attention after CNN correspondent Omar Jimenez and his crew were taken in custody live on air while reporting in Minneapolis, where Mr Floyd was killed.

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