A Baltimore photojournalist, J.M. Giordano, claims the police “hit him in the head multiple times” during the protest held in the wake of Freddie Gray on Saturday night. A photographer for Reuters, Sait Serkan Gurbuz, was also detained while covering the same event.
Following the death of Gray, who died from the injuries he sustained in police custody earlier this month, a huge crowd assembled on the streets of Baltimore to protest against racism and police brutality. The march originated in Gray's West Baltimore neighborhood before moving downtown.
Though it began peacefully, various incidents of violence soon broke out.
After the protestors reportedly threw rocks at the baton-wielding officers, the Baltimore police ordered them to vacate the area and warned that they would be detained, according to the Baltimore Sun.
However, when protestors refused to obey, the police, wearing helmets and protective gears, charged toward them. Giordano, who was standing next to the protestors, says he was knocked down and had his "face pretty much smushed down on the ground." The journalist's coworker and City Paper's managing editor Baynard Woods managed to capture the entire ordeal on camera.
Giordano sustained multiple bruises as the result of the violent altercation but continued to photograph the protest.
Meanwhile, another photojournalist from Reuters, Sait Serkan Gurbuz, was arrested by the Baltimore police while he was photographing the encounter between police and another photojournalist — possibly Giordano.
Status Update: First, thanks everyone for their concern. I'm OK. It's an occupational hazard. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, stay focused on #FreddieGray. From what we know, he died after being in the back of a police paddy wagon for merely running away. Also, I'm concerned about the man who was next to me in the video. The police swarmed over us. After getting up, I kept shooting, again, it's my job, I managed to get shots of him being arrested, as you'll see later on today. I'm NOT ant-cop. There were quite a few that I've seen this week that have been talking to protesters and engaging, one took off his riot helmet just to talk, which I also have photos of. It's cliche by now, but I don't take sides. This video was posted so people could see what happened last night. They also arrested a Reuters photog who was just standing there, so make of that what you will. I imagine that Baynard Woods' sonic boom of a voice kept me out of the wagon. His phone died while recording this, so there's no more footage. BUt like I said, I never stopped shooting. Please lets stay focused on Freddie and his family. Please. Also, the looters, who I stuck with, were local kids that had NOTHING to do with the protests of the day. Alll the protests up until now have been peaceful on both sides. NONE were family members that I could see. PLEASE share this statement. I have to get back out there today.
"Serkan was on a public sidewalk and the events were happening in plain view. We do not agree with the police's citation for 'failure to obey orders,' as Serkan backed away from the scene when the police demanded that he do so, or with the way in which he was treated by the police," said Reuters' spokesperson. "We hope the department will dismiss the citation and, in the future, respect the First Amendment right of the press to lawfully take images in the public interest."
The police soon released the Gurbuz and did not charge Giordano, but incidents like this, especially in the aftermath of similar police-involved deaths, add to the negative image of the law enforcement agency.
Almost 34 people were arrested on Saturday and Sunday at the protests.