Citizen journalist attacked during demonstration home from the hospital

Eufemia Didonato

A young man who livestreams protests said he was home from the hospital “resting and going through concussion protocol” Monday, following an attack Saturday evening. 

Hiram Garcia was attacked by demonstrators while covering a “Mike Ramos Brigade” march in the Riverside – Pleasant Valley area. The demonstration took place on the six month anniversary of Mike Ramos’ death at the hands of an Austin Police Officer. 

During his live online broadcast Saturday, Garcia explained why he felt he was being targeted by the militant group, which Ramos’ own mother has denounced.

“So, specifically [demonstrators with the brigade are] more concerned like that I don’t take like really extreme measures to blur out their faces or edit footage afterward. Obviously, this is not what the streams about,” he explained. 

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The Radio Television Digital News Association or RDTNA, the world’s largest professional organization devoted to broadcast and digital journalism, is condemning the attack. 

“These protestors were walking down a public sidewalk on a city street. If they desire to be anonymous they should take steps themselves to remain anonymous,” said Dan Shelley, executive director and chief operating officer of the RTDNA. 

During Garcia’s livestream a demonstrator can be heard calling him a “f— snitch!” Garcia asks the man “how though?” The demonstrator replies “they’ll come after us, they’ve got facial recognition.” 

“It’s not up to journalists who are objectively observing and videotaping their activities to blur their identities. Journalists can’t be active participants in stories they cover and by concealing their identities when they’re out in public — trying to make a point, that would be actively participating in their protest in my view.” said Shelley, noting that the practice would be “inappropriate.” 

Garcia said the attack left him with a “serious” concussion, a black eye, and “other scrapes and bruises.” He estimates he lost about $1,000 worth of camera equipment. 

Monday, Austin Police said no arrests had been made in relation to the attack.

According to the Press Freedom Tracker, which the RTDNA helped found, this attack is one of more than 860 reported instances of aggression against journalists at Black Lives Matter protests since May.

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