Reporters threatened while covering police protests in western Brazil

Journalists covering police protests in the Amazon-region city of Porto Velho, Rondônia on May 7 and 8 were threatened and harassed by several demonstrating officers, Rondoniaovivo reports.

Cameraman Adilson Santos, who was covering the first day of the protest for Rede Record-owned TV Candelária, said he was threatened by plainclothes police officers. A day later, another group of out-of-uniform police threatened journalist Herivelton Rodrigues Palma and Rondoniaovivo reporter Luíz Júnior.

According to the Amazon Journalists’ Syndicate, Palma was taking pictures of a bridge blockade made by protesters, when officers struck him several times, threatened him, and forced him to erase the photos from his camera. He plans to file a complaint with state prosecutors and said he is looking for witnesses to help identify those responsible.

The president of the Brazilian Association of Radio and Television Broadcasters (ABERT), Emanuel Soares, said these incidents are worrying: “The reports show that several police officers acted violently against citizens and journalists who were…covering an event of extreme public interest. We cannot allow obstacles to the freedom to practice journalism, which is protected by the Constitution,” he said.

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.