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JOURNALISM IN THE AMERICAS Blog

Photojournalist is hit by rubber bullet during protest coverage in São Paulo



Brazilian photojournalist Daniel Arroyo was hit by a rubber bullet fired by a military police officer (PM, for its initials in Portuguese) on Jan. 16. He was covering a protest against the fare increase for public transportation in São Paulo when he was injured in the right knee.

The photographer was hit before the protest even began, according to the site Ponte Jornalismo, for whom Arroyo covered the demonstration. According to what the photojournalist said in a video published to Twitter, one of the demonstrators was detained by police and there was confusion. After that, a military police officer started firing rubber bullets.

"A PM at point-blank range shot a rubber bullet at that first demonstrator, then took a second shot. With the second shot, I was hit. I was three meters away," said Arroyo, who recorded the police action.

The photojournalist also recorded the moment when he asked for help from the military police, who denied relief, according to Ponte. He went on his own to a medical center and is already well, the site reported.

Arroyo told site UOL that he would file an incident report on the case. According to portal G1, the Military Police of São Paulo will open an investigation regarding the incident.

According to Folha de S. Paulo, police spokesperson Major Emerson Massera said he regretted that the photographer had been injured. “The work of the press is not only valued, but protected, so we regret what happened,” he said.

The Brazilian Association of Investigative Journalism (Abraji) condemned the incident and called for punishment of those responsible. "Whenever a media professional is attacked and prevented from carrying out his work, the right to public information is restricted and democracy loses," the organization said in a statement.

The Union of Professional Journalists in the State of São Paulo also repudiated the incident. The president of the organization, Paulo Zocchi, told Ponte that "the PM is trying to prevent the recording of violence against the demonstrators."



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