Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has called for an investigation after two of the country’s journalists were attacked by police in Washington DC on Monday.
During a live morning newscast on the program “Sunrise” on Tuesday in Australia, police were seen using their shields to clear Channel 7 News US correspondent Amelia Brace and photojournalist Tim Myers from the scene. The Australian outlet is a CNN affiliate.
The video shows police hitting Myers and punching his camera. Another officer then directs the pair, who were trapped against a wall, to move on, before appearing to smack Brace in the back with a baton.
Marise Payne, the country’s foreign minister, said that Morrison had “contacted the Australian Embassy in Washington DC on Tuesday instructing them to investigate the troubling incident and provide further advice on registering the Australian government’s concern.”
Payne added in an interview with ABC Radio National on Tuesday that “I want to get further advice on how we would go about registering Australia’s strong concerns with the responsible local authorities in Washington.”
Australia’s Department for Foreign Affairs and Trade “reached out to Amelia and to Tim, the Channel 7 team, to check on their wellbeing through the embassy and Channel 7 here in Australia,” Payne said.
The US ambassador to Australia, Arthur B. Culvahouse Jr., said in a statement posted on Twitter that “freedom of the press is a right Australians and Americans hold dear. We take the mistreatment of journalists seriously.”
“We remain steadfast in our commitment to protecting journalists and guaranteeing equal justice for all under the law,” he added.
According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, at least 125 press freedom violations have been reported in the United States by journalists covering protests triggered by death of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
At least 20 journalists have been arrested, according to the media watchdog. CNN’s Omar Jimenez and members of his crew were taken into police custody during a live broadcast at the site of protests in Minneapolis last week, even though he clearly identified himself as a journalist.
The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office is investigating the alleged assault of a Wall Street Journal reporter covering the protests by members of the New York Police Department.
In an interview with “Sunrise” following the incident in Washington DC, Brace said that “we have regrouped we are not too bad. It is actually the tear gas that gets you the most, it is very hard to continue speaking in that situation.”
Brace said that she and Myers were both shot with rubber bullets.
“There was no escape at that moment, we had the [National Guard] behind us the police coming through so quickly there was nowhere for us to go,” Brace added.