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Independent photojournalist Josh Pacheco was briefly detained by New York City police officers while reporting on a pro-Palestinian demonstration in Brooklyn on May 18, 2024.

Brooklyn Paper reported that the rally marking Nakba Day — which commemorates the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians during the Arab-Israeli war of 1948 — has been held in the Bay Ridge neighborhood for years without incident.

In an interview with the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker, Pacheco said they had documented the rally in previous years and described the demonstration as “generally a parade, a rowdy parade.”

“It’s never been heavily policed, and Saturday it was just bloody, brutal arrest after bloody, brutal arrest,” Pacheco said.

Several hours into the march, Pacheco said, they were talking with other members of the press while crossing the street at a crosswalk with a green light, while protesters continued moving ahead of them.

“As I am approaching the street corner, one of the officers just grabs me and starts making an arrest out of the blue,” Pacheco said. “A sergeant or captain said, ‘We told you to get out of the roadway. This is what you get for not following orders. Your press pass doesn’t protect you.’”

Pacheco said they were the only journalist detained and that they believe the officers recognized them from protests in Manhattan.

In footage of their detainment, Pacheco can be heard asking the officers, “Oh literally? You’re going to do this twice? Why are you even arresting me?” The photojournalist was also arrested 11 days prior while covering a pro-Palestinian demonstration at the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan, but the charges were dropped.

After they were handcuffed, Pacheco told the Tracker that an officer took them to the middle of the street to be loaded into a prisoner transport van.

“A couple white shirts talked to me. The first one said, ‘Yeah, you’re press. You’re getting arrested. Your charges will probably be dropped,’” Pacheco said. “The second white shirt comes over: ‘Hey, we’re going to release you but you’re going to be detained for a minute to just calm down.’”

Pacheco told the Tracker that the officer who had initially told them that they had not been following orders approached and took a photograph of their press credentials, after which the photojournalist was released. They estimated that they were detained for approximately five minutes.

A second journalist, independent videographer Sam Seligson, was arrested while covering the demonstration that day and charged with disorderly conduct, obstruction of government administration and resisting arrest.

Pacheco posted on social media that they were enraged and disturbed by the police response to the protest. “Nakba day, while still a protest, has historically been joyful, rambunctious—largely a celebration. I’m shocked, shaken by today’s violence,” they wrote.

The NYPD did not respond to a request for comment.


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

Citations

[1] Pro-Palestine organizers denounce police brutality, refute claims of outside agitators at Bay Ridge Nakba Day protest • Brooklyn Paper ➤ https://www.brooklynpaper.com/groups-condemn-brutality-nakba-day-bay-ridge/[2] x.com ➤ https://twitter.com/peterhvideo/status/1791964879684858299/video/1[3] Photojournalist dragged to the ground, arrested at NYC protest - U.S. Press Freedom Tracker ➤ https://pressfreedomtracker.us/all-incidents/photojournalist-dragged-to-the-ground-arrested-at-nyc-protest/[4] x.com ➤ https://twitter.com/JP_OTG?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw[5] x.com ➤ https://t.co/lYoWysP4yF[6] x.com ➤ https://twitter.com/peterhvideo/status/1791964879684858299?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw[7] Independent videographer thrown to ground, arrested at NYC protest - U.S. Press Freedom Tracker ➤ https://pressfreedomtracker.us/all-incidents/independent-videographer-thrown-to-ground-arrested-at-nyc-protest/[8] x.com ➤ https://twitter.com/JP_OTG/status/1791980809622065635[9] x.com ➤ https://twitter.com/JP_OTG/status/1791980809622065635?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw