Eleven protesters were arrested during a scuffle between police and anti-Trump demonstrators in New York City yesterday, November 1, Gothamist reports. Among them was Chae Kihn, an independent photographer who often covers Black Lives Matter protests in the city.
In a tweet, the New York Police Department (NYPD) denied that any journalists were apprehended, claiming that those arrested were “verified to not be NYPD credentialed members of the press.”
“They didn’t care I was a photographer. They didn’t care I was press,” Kihn told Hyperallergic. “People who know me were shouting out that I was press, and they didn’t care.”
Around 100 counter-protesters had gathered in Manhattan’s Madison Square Park on Sunday afternoon to confront caravans of Trump supporters expected to drive through the area. The group was marching toward West Side Highway and had arrived at the High Line Park on 24th Street when dozens of NYPD officers in riot gear began trailing them. In a video posted by @scootercaster, a Freedom News TV reporter, an NYPD audio asking protesters to clear the roadway plays in the background as officers charge at several members of the crowd who appear to be on the sidewalk.
Kihn, the photographer, is wearing a white hat and can be seen tackled to the ground at the beginning of the video. Hawk Newsome, the co-founder of Black Lives Matter Greater New York, was also reportedly arrested during the clash.
“They said move to the sidewalk and I was on the way. The video shows that. They didn’t need to use such excessive force. I am not a threat,” Kihn told Hyperallergic. “What did I do to deserve that? Walk in the road. I am a photographer documenting this movement. What about freedom of the press?”
The person in the video is Chae Kihn, a professional photographer who dutifully covered protests all summer long. She was chased and cuffed by 10+ cops while doing her job today. But she’s not an NYPD-sanctioned reporter, so @NYPDnews says that’s fine https://t.co/V5WbB4yFAS pic.twitter.com/ZC1rU1k4cE
— Jake Offenhartz (@jangelooff) November 1, 2020
The police department’s defense of the arrest on the basis of the photographer’s purported lack of NYPD-verified press credentials has been met with disbelief from reporters.
“She was chased and cuffed by 10+ cops while doing her job today,” journalist Jake Offenhartz tweeted of Kihn’s arrest. “But she’s not an NYPD-sanctioned reporter, so @NYPDnews says that’s fine.”
A search for Kihn’s work online reveals several photographs published in the New York Times, the Village Sun, and BOMB magazine, as well as an archive of recent protest photography on her Instagram account, @chaekihn.
According to the NYPD’s website, applicants for press credentials must be members of the media who cover in-person events “where police and fire lines or other restrictions, limitations, or barriers established by the City of New York have been set up for security or crowd control purposes.”
In the wake of demonstrations against police brutality this year, journalists faced record attacks at the hands of law enforcement; some elected officials and media outlets have argued that the department should no longer be in charge of issuing press passes.
“They go too far,” Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer told Gothamist in August. “They give too much authority and credence to a department that has been very reticent to be transparent and cooperative with journalists.”
NYPD has not yet responded to Hyperallergic’s request for comment. Kihn confirmed that she was released from police custody yesterday around 6pm.