Asbury Park Press reporter arrested live-streaming protests
ASBURY PARK — Police arrested an Asbury Park Press reporter covering protests in the city Monday night.
The newspaper identified the reporter as Gustavo Martínez Contreras. He'd been live-streaming the aftermath of a rally Monday night via Twitter. Caution: The embedded video below includes images of violence and profanity.
In the video, police are seen ordering crowds to go home after the city entered an 8 p.m. curfew. Several protesters are seen being arrested before the video ends as well. Martínez Contreras tweeted that protesters had been told twice to go home since 9:30, but "some say they're going nowhere."
The city's curfew order specifically exempts credentialed members of the media.
An officer is heard in the video telling Martínez Contreras "get your f---ing hands behind your back" before the video becomes hard to make out amid commotion and then cuts out. The video is shot from Martínez Contreras' perspective and it's not immediately clear what he was doing right before that moment.
As of midnight, Asbury Park Police hadn't issued any public statement about arrests via their social media. But the Press separately reported police began clearing the streets after 10 p.m., and clashed with protesters, some of whom threw rocks at officers. One officer was injured, a police spokesperson was quoted telling the newspaper.
NJ.com cited police saying the officer had suffered a head injury. That news outlet said its journalists also saw Martínez Contreras being arrested.
It wasn't immediately clear what charges if any Martínez Contreras was facing.
The clashes followed an hours-long demonstration and march that drew thousands, and had remained peaceful as police remained alongside and intermingled with protesters. Police were seen in live-stream videos by attendees clearing streets for protesters and telling them, after one attendee was arrested, that he'd be processed and released in just minutes. Organizers had also urged those in the crowd to go home afterward, saying they weren't looking for any escalation into the evening.
Martínez Contreras' own Twitter account showed officers taking a knee alongside demonstrators in the evening, in a video posted only about 20 minutes before the one that depicts his arrest.
Hollis R. Towns — Northeast Regional Editor and Vice President for News at Gannet, the Press' parent company — called the arrest a "shameful act by police" on Twitter.
Most protests in New Jersey over the past few days — prompted, like others across the nation, by the death of George Floyd under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer a week ago — remained peaceful. However, demonstrations in Trenton and Atlantic City gave way Sunday night to violence and looting, police in both communities said.