Baltimore police beat up a news photographer during Saturday night’s protests over the Freddie Gray death where tensions ran high between demonstrators and police as well as demonstrators and baseball fans attending the Orioles game against the Red Sox at Camden Yards.
Sources on the ground say it was mostly a peaceful demonstration, but the photos and videos making the rounds show a violent, chaotic scene with police cars and store windows being destroyed.
One video shows J.M. Giordano, a photo editor from City Paper, the local alternative newspaper, being beaten by Baltimore police in riot gear. The video, posted below, was recorded by City Paper’s managing editor, Baynard Woods.
According to City Paper:
City Paper Photo Editor J.M. Giordano was tackled and beaten by Baltimore City police outside of Western District headquarters last night while covering protests over the death of Freddie Gray in police custody.
In a video shot by City Paper Managing Editor Baynard Woods you can see Giordano, wearing a green jacket, and a protester, both of whom had just been knocked to the ground by police, being beaten as Woods yells, “He’s a photographer! He’s press!”
Giordano says he was standing next to the protester in the video, facing the police line, at about 12:30 when someone threw a rock which hit a police officer’s shield.
“They mobilized,” he says. The police line moved forward and Giordano did not move fast enough for them. “I always move at the last second,” he says. Five or six police officers in riot gear hit Giordano and the other protester with their shields, knocking them to the ground.
“They just swarmed over me,” he says. “I got hit. My head hit the ground. They were hitting me, then someone pulled me out.”
“I kept shooting it,” he says. “As soon as I got up I started taking pictures.” He says the guy who was next to him (who did not throw anything, he is sure) got arrested and was loaded into a van. Joe was not. He thinks it is because police recognized him as a local reporter and figured arresting him would cause a backlash.
“They [police] tried to block me from shooting.”
Giordano was not arrested, but City Paper says that a photographer from Reuters news service, Sait Serkan Gurbuz, was arrested on a disorderly conduct charge. Gurbuz tweeted an hour ago that he has been released.
Some people began tweeting that police were only trying to protect Giordano when they beat him, which Woods quickly refuted on Twitter.
As for Giordano, he is writing the incident off as an “occupational hazard.”
Baltimore police released a statement this morning that they arrested 34 people.