Police in Minnesota round up journalists covering protest, force them on the ground and take pictures of their faces

Journalists covering a protest in a Minneapolis suburb on Friday night were forced on their stomachs by law enforcement, rounded up and were only released after having their face and press credentials photographed.

Demonstrators gathered to protest the death of 20-year-old Daunte Wright in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, where the 20-year-old was fatally shot by a white police officer during a traffic stop Sunday.

Approximately 500 protesters were marching peacefully until around 9 p.m. when an incident triggered police to start using chemical irritants such as tear gas, pepper balls and projectiles, Jasper Colt, a photojournalist with the USA TODAY Network, reported.

After about 30 minutes, law enforcement told protesters to the leave the area in a loud speaker announcement calling the demonstration an unlawful assembly. The crowd thinned out, and a smaller number of protesters and media were left.

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“A lot of journalists like myself were slow to leave the area,” Colt said. “We didn’t think we need to, and we wanted to cover what was happening.”

Colt described police then corralling protesters and media into one group and yelling for them to get “flat on our stomachs.”

Law enforcement quickly identified media and escorted them to a line where they were asked for credentials and identification. Law enfrocement took pictures of journalists’ credentials and IDs as well as photos of the journalists’ faces.

“They were the ones with the guns, so we were like, ‘okay, well, we have to do this,’” Colt said.

The incident occurred hours after a judge issued a temporary order barring law enforcement from using force or chemical agent against the media, according to MPR News. The order also barred police from confiscating media equipment.

Mayor Mike Elliott said at a news conference Wednesday that “gassing is not a human way of policing” and he didn’t agree with police using pepper spray, tear gas and paintballs against demonstrators.

Neither the Brooklyn Center police department nor Elliott immediately responded to USA TODAY’s request for comment. 

Protests have continued since Officer Kim Potter was charged Wednesday with second-degree manslaughter. The former police chief in the majority nonwhite suburb said Potter fired her pistol when she meant to use her Taser, but protesters and Wright’s family say there’s no excuse for the shooting. Both Potter and the chief resigned Tuesday.

Contributing: Associated Press. Follow Adrianna Rodriguez on Twitter: @AdriannaUSAT. 

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