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CNN journalists Alexander Marquardt and Josh Replogle were pepper sprayed by National Guard troops on June 3, 2020 while covering early-morning protests in Washington, D.C., near Lafayette Square.

Marquardt and Replogle were covering one of the many protests that erupted in Washington and other U.S cities following the May 25 death of George Floyd while he was in custody of Minneapolis police.

Marquardt, senior national security correspondent for CNN, tweeted on June 3 that a group of individuals attempted just after 12:30 a.m. to push down a fence erected around Lafayette Square. National Guard troops at the scene “responded with pepper spray and rounds,” Marquardt tweeted, without explaining what types of rounds the troops used.

“An otherwise peaceful day that ends with unrest,” Marquardt tweeted. “I really don’t know how that helped anything.”

Replogle was operating a camera for CNN’s reporting from the scene. Marquardt said in a tweet thread that troops fired pepper spray at his team despite the fact that the journalists weren’t standing near protesters.

He also said that because he was holding a microphone, and Replogle was holding a large camera, it should have been clear that they were press, covering the protest.

“3 hours later my arm was still burning,” Marquardt tweeted. “Others got it far worse.”

Mark Irons, a correspondent for the Catholic-themed Eternal Word Television Network, tweeted that National Guard troops fired rubber bullets at the crowd gathered at Lafayette Square around the time that Marquardt and Replogle were hit with pepper spray.

Irons also posted a video depicting troops firing pepper spray at protesters who lowered themselves to their knees and raised their hands.

Marquardt and Replogle didn’t respond to requests by the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker for comment and CNN didn’t comment on the incident further.

The District of Columbia National Guard also didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Two days earlier, on June 1, President Trump had used St. John’s Episcopal Church at Lafayette Square as the backdrop for a controversial photo op. National Guard troops used tear gas and pepper balls to clear protesters from the area before Trump posed for cameras while holding up a Bible. Tall fences were erected in the park after protesters were expelled, but the protesters later returned to the park area.

The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker is documenting several hundred incidents of journalists being assaulted, arrested, struck by crowd-control ammunition or tear gas, or having their equipment damaged while covering protests across the country. Find these incidents here.

This content originally appeared on U.S. Press Freedom Tracker: All Incidents and was authored by U.S. Press Freedom Tracker: All Incidents.


[1] Alex Marquardt on Twitter: "In the late night drama at Lafayette Park, our team (@Joshrepp on camera) was sprayed with pepper spray though we were away from protesters and clearly press (camera, microphone, etc). 3 hours later my arm was still burning. Others got it far worse.…" ➤[2] Alex Marquardt on Twitter: "Another angle that shows how separated from agitators we were and how obvious it was we were press. @Joshrepp and I were with @JayMcMichaelCNN and @cnnjamie." ➤[3] Mark Irons on Twitter: "Last 10 minutes, lot to unpack here... troops moved up to fence, rubber bullets shot through at running crowd #DC #DCPROTEST…" ➤[4]