Prime minister calls for investigation into alleged police attack on Australian news crew outside White House

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Tuesday called for an investigation into an alleged police attack on an Australian news crew outside of the White House during protests over the death of George Floyd.

Morrison described the incident as “troubling” and called for the Australian Embassy to investigate, according to The Canberra Times.

He spoke with Network Seven to check on the welfare of its news crew and offered his support should they wish to file a formal complaint against the police, the newspaper noted.

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Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese condemned the incident while speaking with reporters, saying the country’s ambassador in the U.S. should make representations on their behalf.

"In a democratic society the role of the media is critical, and it's important the media are able to report on events, including crises such as we're seeing in the United States, free from harassment," he said. "The violence that has occurred towards members of the media is completely unacceptable."

In a statement, U.S. Ambassador to Australia Arthur B. Culvahouse Jr. said his embassy takes “mistreatment of journalists seriously, as do all who take democracy seriously.”

“As Secretary [of State Mike] Pompeo has stated, 'At all levels, the Department of State works tirelessly to advance press freedom, and we honor those who have dedicated and even sacrificed their lives to sustaining democracy though journalism,’” Culvahouse wrote. “We remain steadfast in our commitment to protecting journalists and guaranteeing equal justice under law for all.”

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The calls for investigation come after Network Seven cameraman Tim Myers was seen being hit with a riot shield and punched in the face by a police officer during Monday night's protest. Another officer was also seen swinging a truncheon at reporter Amelia Brace.

Both were shot with rubber bullets and faced the tear gas thrown at protesters near the White House, according to the Times. 

The moment, which was caught up both by Myers’s camera but also by local Washington, D.C., outlet ABC 7-WJLA, quickly went viral on social media.

 

Brace identified herself as “media” as the officers moved in. She said that the officers, however, were being “indiscriminate.”

“They were quite violent and they do not care who they’re targeting at the moment,” she said on-air, adding that they were firing rubber bullets throughout the crowd.

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Brace said that she and her videographer were trying to move but police kept pushing forward, rushing the crowd to edge protesters out of the park. 

“There was no choice but for us to hide in that corner and hope they would pass by ... as you saw in those pictures, they did not," she said. 

Law enforcement forcibly removed protesters from Lafayette Square near the White House on Monday evening, shortly before President TrumpDonald John TrumpLincoln Project ad dubs Jared Kushner the 'Secretary of Failure' Pence: Chief Justice Roberts 'has been a disappointment to conservatives' Twitter bans Trump campaign until it deletes tweet with COVID-19 misinformation MORE walked through the square to visit the historic St. John’s Church.

The violent clash followed days of protests outside of the White House in response to Floyd's death at the hands of Minneapolis police last week. An officer seen in video of the death kneeling on the unarmed black man's neck has been fired and charged in the case.