- Los Angeles sheriff’s deputies arrested a reporter named Josie Huang Saturday while she covered protests outside a hospital where two deputies were being treated for gunshot injuries.
- The sheriff’s department claimed Huang approached deputies without identifying herself as a reporter, but footage she took shows that they went up to her and that she identified herself as a reporter multiple times.
- The footage also shows deputies knocking her to the ground as she screamed in pain. She was charged for obstruction and was in custody for five hours.
- Many have condemned LASD for arresting a reporter doing her job and for lying about the circumstances that led to the arrest.
- However, Sheriff Villanueva defended the arrest, saying in “the heat of the moment, that’s what happened.” He also claimed she had a work I.D., not formal press credentials, and that the news agency she worked for is not a “household name.”
Deputies from the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department detained reporter Josie Huang on Saturday, claiming she did not identify herself to them while covering a protest. Footage that Huang released, however, paints a much different picture of how her arrest unfolded.
Huang was outside St. Francis Medical Center in the Lynwood neighborhood of L.A. covering a press conference, held by LASD, about two deputies who were shot earlier that night. She heard a commotion and noticed a small gathering of protesters, then began to record their interactions with officers. What happened next varies, depending on whose account you read.
Early on Sunday morning, LASD tweeted a thread saying deputies dispersed a group blocking the emergency entrance and exits of the hospital. One protester refused to comply and was arrested.
“During his arrest, a struggle ensued at which time a female adult ran towards the deputies, ignored repeated commands to stay back as they struggled with the male and interfered with the arrest,” the department’s thread continued. The woman being referenced here is Huang. She and the protester were both arrested for violating obstruction laws.
(3/3) The female adult, who was later identified as a member of the press, did not identify herself as press and later admitted she did not have proper press credentials on her person. Both individuals have been arrested for 148 P.C.— LA County Sheriffs (@LASDHQ) September 13, 2020
LASD claims that Huang did not identify herself as a reporter and did not have credentials on her person. However, she posted a thread of her own later in the day which included footage she took where she can be heard identifying herself as a reporter for KPCC, L.A.’s local NPR station.
In one tweet, she says she had her press I.D. on a lanyard around her neck, which footage from ABC7 confirms. She also posted videos that she took of the protesters and said that in the beginning, no one took issue with her being there.
After the group dispersed, officers continued to follow one man. Huang says she followed from a distance and zoomed in on her phone to capture the encounter. As she approached a squad car, authorities told her to back up. She said she had nowhere to go and was quickly shoved around by officers.
The footage then showed her point of view as she was toppled to the ground, screaming in pain.
“I’m a reporter! I’m with KPCC!” she yelled. The screen eventually goes black, but she can be heard calling for help and repeating that she is a member of the press. Eventually, an officer stepped on her phone while she tells them she is hurt.
Huang wrote that she was put in a patrol car and was in custody for five hours. She says that a deputy refused to uncuff her so that she could put her mask on. She also said that they dismissed bleeding from her foot and withheld a shoe she had lost.
Huang shared another angle of what happened that was taken from across the street. It shows officers tackling her to the ground while she identifies herself and screams.
Outrage and Backlash
This incident has led to outrage from journalists and press organizations across the country. NPR, in particular, asked that the charges against Huang be dropped.
“NPR is appalled by the arrest of Josie Huang, a KPCC public radio reporter, who was performing her job last night—gathering facts to inform the American public,” it said in a statement. “The rights of journalists are protected by the First Amendment, and essential to an informed public and our Democracy.”
The Asian American Journalists Association also released a statement saying that Huang’s arrest serves as a reminder of “the risks that journalists face every day while reporting on the front lines during these uncertain times.”
“We hold LA County Sheriff’s Department accountable to provide answers for the excessive use of force in the detainment of our colleague,” AAJA added. “The Los Angeles Chapter of AAJA demands an investigation and apology for her arrest.”
The L.A. County Inspector General’s office will be investigating LASD’s conduct following the press conference and Huang’s arrest.
“What surprises me the most is that once she was identified as a reporter that they transported her, that they cited her,” Inspector General Max Huntsman told the Los Angeles Times. “Those two incidents are of concern to us because 1st Amendment rights are absolutely critical to the public’s respect of law enforcement. And so we feel that requires immediate investigation.”
On Sunday night, Kerry Carter, Captain of Century Sheriff’s Station tweeted that an investigation into the matter was underway. However, he said he could not comment further. On Monday, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva defended the deputies who arrested Huang.
“Ultimately, we realize OK, she could have done things different,” he told KTLA. “[We] could’ve probably done things different. But at the heat of the moment, that’s what happened.”
He also claimed that she had on a work I.D., not press credentials, and that KPCC was “not a household name.”
Deputies Shot in Compton
Huang was at St. Francis to report on two deputies who were undergoing surgery at the hospital after being shot multiple times in Compton. Both were in critical condition at the time. While officials do not currently know what the long term impacts of their wounds will be, they are both expected to recover.
The suspect is still at large and a $100,000 reward is being offered for information that could lead to finding and arresting them. Officers have described the shooting as an ambush. A brief video shared by LASD shows the suspect running up to the officers, firing, and running away.
The shooting garnered national attention. President Donald Trump tweeted that he was sending “love and support” to the deputies’ families and praying for their recovery.
Former Vice President Joe Biden said the shooting was “unconscionable and the perpetrator must be brought to justice.”
See what others are saying: (LAist) (Los Angeles Times) (KTLA)
Florida Breaks Its Record for New Daily COVID-19 Cases and Hospitalizations
The Sunshine State now accounts for 20% of all new COVID-19 cases nationwide.
Florida Becomes COVID Epicenter
Florida reported 10,207 COVID-19 hospitalizations on Sunday, marking its largest single-day count to date. The grim record comes just one day after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released data showing that the state had counted 21,683 new infections Friday, its highest record of daily cases since the start of the pandemic.
Florida has become the new epicenter of the most recent U.S. outbreaks driven by the delta variant. The state now accounts for one out of every five new cases, and the weekend numbers are highly significant because they surpass previous records that were logged before vaccines were readily available.
Notably, Florida’s vaccination rate is actually the exact same as the nationwide average of 49% fully vaccinated, according to The New York Times tracker. In fact, Florida’s rate is the highest among the top 10 states currently reporting the most COVID cases.
While Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has encouraged Florida residents to get vaccinated, he and the state’s legislature have also made it much harder for local officials to enforce protections to mitigate further spread.
DeSantis Bars Masking in Schools
On the same day that the state reported its highest cases ever, DeSantis signed an executive order banning school districts from requiring students to wear a mask when they go back to school later this month.
The move directly contradicts guidance issued by the CDC last week, which recommended that everyone inside K-12 schools wear a face covering.
DeSantis, for his part, has repeatedly claimed the spikes are part of “seasonal” increases driven by more people being indoors and air-conditioning systems circulating the virus. Still, he argued also Friday that he did not think masks were necessary to prevent children from transmitting COVID in the classroom, where they are inside with air conditioning.
At the same time, last week, Florida reported more than 21,000 infections among children younger than 19.
Florida is not the only state that has banned schools from requiring masks. In fact, many of the states suffering the biggest spikes have done the same, including Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas — which all currently rank among the top 10 states with the highest per capita COVID cases.
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (NPR) (Axios)
Biden to Mandate COVID Vaccines for Federal Workers as CDC Changes Masking Guidance
News of the efforts came on the same day that the U.S. reported more than 100,000 new daily COVID cases for the first time since February.
Federal Vaccine Mandate
President Joe Biden will announce Thursday that all federal employees must get vaccinated against COVID-19 or consent to strict testing and other safety precautions, White House officials told reporters Tuesday.
Earlier in the day, Biden said he was considering the requirement but did not provide any more information.
While the officials also said the details are still being hashed out, they did note that the policy would be similar to ones recently put in place by California and New York City, which respectively required state and city workers to get the jab or submit to regular testing.
Also on Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated their guidelines to recommend that Americans who live in areas “of substantial or high transmission,” as well as all students and teachers, wear masks indoors regardless of their vaccination status.
Delta Causes Spikes, But Vaccines Still Prove Effective
The renewed COVID mitigation efforts come as the delta variant is driving massive surges all over the country.
Coronavirus cases have quadrupled throughout July, jumping from a weekly average of 11,799 on the first day of the month to 63,248 on Tuesday, according to The New York Times tracker. Tuesday also saw new daily infections topping 100,000 for the first time since February, with more than 108,000 reported, per The Times.
While the vast majority of new infections are among people who have not been vaccinated, there have also been increasing reports of breakthrough cases in people who have received the jab.
Those cases, however, do not mean that the vaccines are not effective.
No vaccine prevents 100% of infections. Health officials have said time and time again that the jabs are intended to prevent severe disease and death, and they are doing just that.
According to the most recent data for July 19, the CDC reported that only 5,914 of the more than 161 million Americans who have gotten the vaccine were hospitalized or died from COVID-19 — a figure that represents 0.0036% of vaccinated people.
While safety precautions may be recommended for some people who have received the vaccine, many media narratives have overstated the role breakthrough cases play in the recent spikes. As New York Magazine explains, it is imperative to understand these new mask recommendations are not happening because the vaccine is not effective, but because not enough people are getting the vaccine.
“Because breakthrough infections have so often made the news due to their novelty, that can create a perception of more cases than are actually happening — particularly without more robust tracking of the actual cases to provide context,” the outlet wrote.
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (The New York Times) (CNBC)
Wisconsin Police Deny Planting Evidence in Viral Video, Release Their Own Body Cam Footage
The footage police released shows that during a search, officers found a corner tear from a plastic bag inside a backseat passenger’s pocket. An officer then discarded it into the car after determining that it was empty.
Viral Video Appears To Show Officer Planting Evidence
The Caledonia Police Department in Wisconsin has responded to a viral cell phone video that appears to show an officer planting a small plastic baggie inside of a car during a traffic stop.
The now-viral footage was posted to Facebook by a man who goes by GlockBoy Savoo.
The user, who also filmed the clip, wrote in his post’s caption that the officer did this “just to get a reason to search the car” and said the cop didn’t know he was being recorded by the passenger.
Police Shut Down Accusations With Their Own Footage
After that video spread across social media, many were outraged, calling the Caledonia police dirty for seemingly planting evidence. All the outrage eventually prompted the department to announce an investigation Saturday.
Within hours, the department provided an update, claiming that officers didn’t actually plant any evidence or do anything illegal.
Police shared a lengthy summary of events, along with two body camera clips from the incident. That statement explained that the driver of the vehicle was pulled over for going 63 in a 45mph zone.
Two passengers in the backseat who were then spotted without seatbelts were asked to identify themselves and step out of the car. During a search of one passenger’s pockets, an officer pulled out “an empty corner tear” from a plastic baggie.
Police claim the corner tear did not contain any illegal substances, though they said this type of packaging is a common method for holding illegal drugs.
In one body cam clip, an officer can be heard briefly questioning the backseat passenger about the baggie. Then, that piece of plastic gets handed off to different officers who also determined it as empty before the officer in the original viral video discarded it into the back of the car.
The officer can also be seen explaining where the plastic came from to the passenger recording him.
“Aye, bro you just threw that in here!” the front seat passenger says, as heard in his version of the events.
“Yeah, cause it was in his pocket and I don’t want to hold onto it. It’s on their body cam that they took it off of him…I’m telling you where it came from, so. It’s an empty baggie at the moment too, so,” the officer replies.
The department went on to explain that while it would discourage officers from discarding items into a citizen’s car, this footage proves that evidence was not planted.
Authorities also noted that no arrests were made in this incident and the driver was the only one issued a citation for speeding. The statement added that since four officers were present at the scene, police have more than six hours of footage to review but they promised to release the footage in full in the near future.