Seven News reporter attacked in Melbourne protests
Updated: Paul Dowsley grabbed in a headlock and doused in what he believes is urine, during Melbourne protests.
Seven News reporter Paul Dowsley has been attacked on camera whilst covering Melbourne protests in the CBD.
This morning hundreds of protesters arrived at the CFMEU building, to be met by police Riot squad.
As protestors marched through the city a man was seen on camera gripping Dowsley in a headlock as others appeared to join in.
After he recovered Dowsley said some other protesters did stop and check he and his cameraman were OK.
“There was a group there who certainly targeted us a few minutes ago, we were standing on a seat trying to get an elevated view as the protest group walked past, a few in the crowd had it in for mainstream media,” he told Ann Sanders.
“I’m not sure what you saw on screen but a man came from the side grabbed me around the neck and others then joined in and started a scuffle.”
Dowsley said he and his cameraman had a bottle of what they believed to be urine poured on them.
A can of energy drink was also thrown at his head, leaving a cut.
— Blake Johnson (@BlakeJohnson) September 21, 2021
The clash follows the Victorian government’s decision last week to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations for all workers in the construction industry.
The Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union, which is pro-vaccination, maintains that most of the protestors are not union members.
The government today confirmed 403 coronavirus cases were directly linked to the construction sector, last night announcing the construction industry would be shut for two weeks.
MEAA Media Release:
Journalists should be able to go about their work informing the public without facing assault from police or protesters, says the Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance.
MEAA has written to Victoria Police to complain about at least four incidents when journalists were manhandled, capsicum sprayed and detained while covering an anti-lockdown protest in Melbourne on Saturday.
After a television reporter was assaulted several times while covering another protest in Melbourne yesterday, the union has also called on media employers to ensure that journalists are as safe as possible while doing their jobs at public gatherings.
MEAA Media section’s federal vice-president Karen Percy said it appeared as though media workers were being targeted by protesters and police alike.
“Journalists are neutral observers, simply doing a job,” Ms Percy said. “An attack on one journalist, is an attack on us all.
“Police and protesters must accept that the media provides an essential service, particularly during the pandemic, in keeping our community informed.”
MEAA is urging media organisations to review their safety protocols and to ensure proper protections are in place.
“Greater safety measures need to be put in place to allow professional journalists to their jobs,” Ms Percy said.
MEAA members were among those harmed on Saturday. Vision shows journalists being crash-tackled, capsicum-sprayed, hand-cuffed, cautioned and arrested, searched, and questioned before being released.
Despite being clearly identifiable as members of the media, some were deliberately targeted by police officers.
Yesterday, a reporter and crew were assaulted by protesters, including having urine thrown over them, being struck with a drink can and being held in a headlock. Threats and abuse were directed at other journalists as they reported on the protest.
“MEAA has written to Police Minister Lisa Neville, seeking assurances that Victoria Police members must make the effort to identify and differentiate working media from protesters and allow the media to do its job without fear of assault or intimidation by police,” Ms Percy said.
“The media must be allowed to do its job without fear of assault or intimidation by police.
“MEAA will also be contacting news editors to remind them of their obligations under workplace health and safety laws, and urging them to make their employees safe and secure when at work.
“Journalists and media workers have a duty and a responsibility to report the news and must be able to do so in safety, without the threat of intimidation or harassment.
“It’s also crucial that the community at large respects the work of the media and does not fall into the trap of believing baseless accusations of fake news that have led to violent physical assaults on working journalists in other countries.”
Source: Seven News