Four Mexican photojournalists reported being victims of police abuse while covering teacher manifestations on Saturday in the state of Veracruz (east of the country), informed Reporters Without Borders. According to the RWB report, agents of the Ministry of Public Safety beat the journalists and took their equipment.
The attacks happened during the evacuation of 300 teachers who, as part of ongoing protests against the country's education reform, had set up in a plaza in the city of Xalapa (the capital of the state) in front of the Government Palace of Veracruz, informed news agency AFP. Melina Zurita, a contributor for the agency and one of the complainants, said that while she was gathering interviews after the demonstration, a group of civilians asked for her camera, pursued her, and then beat and hit her on the head and body in front of a group of uniformed police officers.
Roger Martínez, a reporter and assistant manager of the agency Gulf Image, was pursued by police officers while taking photographs. According to RWB, he was beaten and tased, causing him to drop his camera. Oscar Martínez y Rubén Espinoza, of news agency ABC, were forced to hand in their work and delete images of the demonstration, RWB and CNN Mexico informed.
RWB also mentioned a fifth photographer, Juan Alberto Arrellano, who was detained and accused of "illegal arms possession" and "crimes against health." According to the police, they confiscated more than 100 bags of cocaine and an undetermined quantity of marijuana from the reporter. RWB and Mexican NGOs questioned whether these accusations were true.
RWB had already condemned the arrest of four independent Mexican journalists that covered manifestations on Sep. 1. Since then, the country has experienced a series of manifestations after the passing of an addendum to the Law of Professional Teaching Service that, among other topics, modified how teachers are evaluated.
Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.