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Police union statement says news crew that was struck with riot shields and batons 'may have fallen'

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Image source: YouTube screenshot

One of the issues that is finally gaining the public's attention in the ongoing national discussion about police use of force is the role that police unions play in protecting the careers of bad apples on police forces around the country and preventing departments from ensuring that good officers are not tainted with the actions of bad officers.

The world got another glaring example of that on Thursday when the Fraternal Order of Police/United States Park Police union issued a statement on the beating of an Australian news team that was attempting to film protests in Washington, D.C. The statement said the news crew was in a dangerous area and in the process of being cleared out, they "may have fallen."

Here's how the incident unfolded live on air, as carried on 7NEWS Australia.

Washington riots: Australian 7NEWS crew attacked by police live on air | 7NEWS www.youtube.com

And here is video from another angle, which clearly shows a police officer swinging a riot shield into the stomach of the cameraman, then another officer swinging a baton at the reporter as they exit the area:

Confronting footage shows Aus news crew attacked by US police youtu.be

There is absolutely no possible suggestion from either of these videos that the news crew in question "may have fallen." Nor, given an even more generous reading of this statement, is there any possibility that any of the protesters in question may have fallen into the crew. The crew was standing, filming, when they were struck out of nowhere by park police officers.

It is worth noting, from the opening seconds of the 7NEWS report indicated above, that the protesters in question did not appear, at least at the time, to be violent. There was a crowd of people who appeared to be standing about, milling around. No one who was caught by the camera as it swept the crowd appeared to be taking any aggressive actions whatsoever toward the officers when they charged in unison into the crowd and began swinging riot shields and batons.

Here is the statement provided by the police union about this incident:

The statement, in relevant part, says:

Some questions have come up about a complaint involving an Australian news reporter and cameraman who were present at the April (sic) 1, 2020 demonstrations. These individuals came into contact with members of the U.S. Park police during the clearing of Lafayette Park. Unfortunately, they were reporting from a very dangerous area, in the middle of violent protesters that were in the process of being cleared out and may have fallen. Also, given the loud noise in Lafayette Park and the lack of readily identifiable journalist markings, were not readily distinguishable from violent protesters that were being cleared out... All labor unions in the United States have a duty to defend their members under existing labor laws and our union will be doing the same in this matter. We wish the Australian reporting team well and simply wish that the circumstances of their visit had been better.

The statement came on the same day that the Buffalo Police Department issued a statement falsely claiming that an elderly man who was injured when he was shoved to the ground police was actually injured when he "tripped and fell."

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