While reporting on the George Floyd protests in Seattle Monday night, MSNBC Reporter Jo Ling Kent was struck by what appeared to be fireworks — but what many point out looked like a tear gas canister and those close to the incident believe was a flash bang — during a live broadcast.
The moment came around 9:20 p.m. Pacific, as Kent and her camera crew were walking through a baseball field somewhere in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. In the background, what appeared to be clouds of tear gas could be seen, as well as bystanders who were setting off fireworks. As Kent explained that somewhere behind them, police were advancing on protesters, what appeared to be a projectile of some kind came from behind the camera and struck a Kent in her left arm, bouncing onto the ground beside her, where it began smoking.
Though understandably shaken, Kent continued to report as she ran away from the smoke and the news crew’s security detail checked to make sure she wasn’t on fire. Meanwhile, MSNBC anchor Brian Williams informed viewers that the network has provided security teams for “all of our correspondents.”
Though Kent said “there are fireworks and severe tear gas being deployed by Seattle police,” the source of the projectile, or even what it was, wasn’t entirely clear in the video. Many viewers assumed she was struck by a tear gas canister rather than fireworks and indeed, footage of other demonstrations in Seattle in which police deployed tear gas showed explosions and smoke very similar to what Kent experienced.
A source with knowledge of the incident told TheWrap of the projectile, “It’s difficult to nail down. There were fireworks, and that was the original thought. And we’re not positive but the thought is that it’s a flash bang.”
In a post to social media shortly after the event happened, MSNBC said it was fireworks. Watch the full clip above.
Though the source of the projectile cannot be determined from the video, what is true is that journalists covering George Floyd protests have been attacked by police in several cities over the last week, many of them on air. For instance in Louisville on Friday, a TV reporter was shot with pepper bags while a police officer aimed his gun directly into a camera. And in Colorado the same day, local police fired paintballs and tear gas directly at a cameraman who was clearly identified as a journalist.
The protests in Seattle are just a few of dozens taking place across the United States on Monday, the 7th straight day of demonstrations inspired by Floyd, who died on Memorial Day after a white officer, Derek Chauvin, choked him with his knee for nearly eight minutes. But the city’s Capitol Hill neighborhood was the site of particularly intense demonstrations, which late Monday night were declared by police to be a ‘riot.’