The U.S. Ambassador to Australia responded Tuesday to images of two Australian journalists being hit by the police Monday as they cleared the way for President Donald Trump’s photo-op in front of St. John’s Church.
“Freedom of the press is a right Australians and Americans hold dear,” Ambassador Arthur Culvahouse Jr. said in a statement. “We take mistreatment of journalists seriously, as do all who take diplomacy seriously.”
“We remain steadfast in our commitment to protecting journalists and guaranteeing equal justice under law for all,” he added after quoting Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on the importance of a free press.
Watch the shocking moment #7NEWS reporter @AmeliaBrace and our cameraman were knocked over by a police officer LIVE on air after chaos erupted in Washington DC. pic.twitter.com/R8KJLnfxPN
— Sunrise (@sunriseon7) June 1, 2020
The two Australian reporters, Seven Network’s cameraman Tim Myers and reporter Amelia Brace, can be seen being smacked by police with a riot shield and baton as they cleared the area near the White House. Audiences in Australia watched live.
“You heard us yelling there that we were media but they don’t care, they’re being indiscriminate at the moment,” Brace narrated on the live feed.
“Our Ambassador should be certainly making representations on behalf of these Australians who effectively been assaulted…for doing their job” – Leader of the @AustralianLabor Party @AlboMP speaking after @Channel7 journalist & cameraman were hit. https://t.co/eegzyU67Mg #7NEWS pic.twitter.com/T2DsdPARpR
— 7NEWS Australia (@7NewsAustralia) June 2, 2020
The two were later hit by rubber bullets and tear gas, per the Sydney Morning Herald.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has reportedly ordered the embassy to look into the episode, and to express Australia’s strong concerns to local authorities.
Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese called the attack “unacceptable.”
The two reporters were swept up in one of the most startling onslaughts of law enforcement aggression Monday, as officers violently cleared the square in front of Lafayette Park before D.C.’s 7 p.m. curfew began.
President Donald Trump had ordered the protesters be removed so he could take a picture in front of the historic St. John’s Church. The Church’s basement had been mildly burned on Sunday, though the blaze was extinguished before it spread to other parts of the building.