An Australian journalist has testified before a US congressional committee about being struck by police outside the White House while reporting live on a Black Lives Matter demonstration.
Police, who were clearing Washington’s Lafayette Square ahead of US President Donald Trump’s appearance in front of a nearby church, used shields and batons to push and hit Seven News correspondent Amelia Brace and camera operator Tim Myers.
Brace gave evidence to the committee investigating the police actions.
“I can be heard screaming as I was struck by non-lethal projectiles directly to my legs and backside,” she told the committee.
“Suddenly the police lines surged forward. We moved back along with many protesters.
“Police lining the park used automatic weapons to fire non-lethal rounds.
“As a reporter I have no interest in becoming the story but over recent weeks many of us have been left with no choice.
“I’ve been shocked to see how many journalists have been attacked, beaten and detained just for doing their jobs.”
Brace said she and her cameraman alerted police that they were journalists.
“As I began reporting live, the line of police suddenly and without warning began charging forward at a sprinting pace, knocking protesters to the ground,” she testified.
“A park police officer who was passing us stopped, turned towards Tim, and rammed him in the chest and stomach with the edge of his riot shield, causing Tim to keel over and drop down.
“The officer then took a step back, paused, then punched his hand directly into the front of Tim’s camera, grabbing the lens.
“As this happened, Tim and I were both repeatedly shouting the word ‘media’.”
The confrontation unfolded on June 1 when crowds which were protesting against the death of George Floyd under the knee of a police officer were forcibly displaced to make way for staged photos of Mr Trump holding up a Bible in front of St John’s Church.
The American Civil Liberties Union and other groups filed a lawsuit in Washington that week on behalf of the demonstrators seeking an order declaring Mr Trump and other officials violated their constitutional rights.
The US ambassador to Australia, Arthur B Culvahouse Jr, said in a statement after the incident the embassy took the mistreatment of journalists seriously, “as do all who take democracy seriously”.
Brace told Channel Seven’s Sunrise program in early June she and Myers were “not too bad” after it happened and the effects from the tear gas were worse.
“We’re a bit sore,” she said.
“I actually managed to get a rubber bullet to the backside and Tim got one in the back of the neck, so we’ll have a few bruises tomorrow but we’re perfectly safe.”
Brace said Myers was a veteran cameraman who had worked in war zones and she felt comfortable being with him.
“There was really no escape at that moment,” she said.
“We had the National Guard behind us and those police coming through so quickly.
“There was nowhere for us to go, so there was really no choice but to hide in that corner hoping they would pass by.
“As you can see in those pictures, they did not.”