George Floyd death: British photographer arrested after taking pictures at New York City protest

British photographer Adam Gray said police pushed him to the ground before piling him into a police van with 20 protestors, and removing all their face masks (SWNS)
British photographer Adam Gray said police pushed him to the ground before piling him into a police van with 20 protesters and removing all their face masks. (SWNS)

A British photographer has said he was “rushed” by police and pushed to the ground as he covered the police brutality protests in New York City over the weekend.

Adam Gray, 33, claimed police threw him to the ground, with several officers climbing on top of him in order to restrain him and force him into handcuffs.

Protests have swept US cities since the death of George Floyd, a black man, in Minneapolis on 25 May after a white then-police officer knelt on his neck for more than seven minutes.

The New York-based photojournalist said: "The whole time I was being arrested, I was shouting that I was press and showing them my Foreign Press card but they just didn't seem to care.

Read more: 11 pictures that show scale of George Floyd police brutality protests in the UK

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MAY 31: Black Lives Matter protesters kneel in Times Square while marching to honor George Floyd in Midtown Manhattan on May 31, 2020 in New York City. Protesters demonstrated for the fourth straight night after video emerged of a Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, pinning George Floyd's neck to the ground. Floyd was later pronounced dead while in police custody after being transported to Hennepin County Medical Center. The four officers involved have been fired and Chauvin has been arrested and charged with 3rd degree murder. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
Protests took place in cities across America at the weekend over the death in police custody of George Floyd. (John Moore/Getty Images)

"I get that in the heat of the moment you might get pushed or grabbed, but as soon as you say that you're press, it normally stops, there but not this time.

"I've worked in many other countries doing work like this and never has it gone as far as this, I couldn't believe it."

Despite showing a press pass issued by the US State Department at the UN Plaza, Gray was arrested and put into a police vehicle.

He was charged with unlawful assembly near Union Square and spent 12 hours in custody amongst the protesters.

During his arrest, police claimed they had made several orders for people to leave the area before he had arrived on the street.

Gray said: "I walked down the street taking photos as I went and then the cops rushed the crowd.

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"I photographed the pandemonium that ensued of them pushing and grabbing protesters before one big cop came at me and pushed me to the ground with his truncheon to my chest.

"I smashed into the floor with my three cameras as three or four cops then got on top of me, restraining me and putting me in handcuffs as I shouted repeatedly that I was press."

Gray’s camera was damaged during the incident. He was then put into a police van with 20 other protesters and driven to a Manhattan police station.

British photographer Adam Gray's camera was damaged as he was arrsted while covering the New York police brutality protests (SWNS)
Adam Gray's camera was damaged as he was arrested while covering police brutality protests in New York City. (SWNS)

He claims police were removing masks from protesters and not returning them as they sat in close proximity to other people in holding.

"I was explaining that I was accredited press at every opportunity,” he said.

"I got searched, processed, had my photo taken and then put into a large holding cell of 50-70 people at its fullest with zero social distancing.

"Police had removed masks from some protesters for their photo but then refused to give them back and did not offer any extra masks."

After being held in custody for eight hours, he had his fingerprints and photos taken and now faces a court date in September.

He said: "I was really shocked when they arrested me, I was just in total disbelief.

"We were held in such close proximity to other people in the holding cell and police weren't letting people have their masks.

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"Considering there is a worldwide pandemic right now, it felt very irresponsible and dangerous of the police to do that.

"It was shocking to see how blasé the police were about the risk of coronavirus and public health.

"Thankfully, I do not have any injuries but I am in disbelief at what happened."