SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — Australia is investigating a U.S. police attack on two Australian television journalists outside the White House, the foreign minister said Tuesday, expressing “strong concerns” about the assault caught live on camera.
“We have asked the Australian embassy in Washington, D.C., to investigate this incident,” Marise Payne said after the journalists were slammed with a riot shield, punched and hit with a baton while broadcasting from the protest.
“I want to get further advice on how we would go about registering Australia’s strong concerns with the responsible local authorities in Washington,” she said, indicating a formal complaint would follow.
Footage showed 7NEWS reporter Amelia Brace being clubbed with a truncheon and cameraman Tim Myers being hit with a riot shield and punched in the face by police clearing Washington’s Lafayette Square of protesters on Monday so President Trump could pose in front of a nearby church holding a Bible.
The journalists said they were also shot with rubber bullets and tear-gassed, which Brace said left them “a bit sore.”
The incident was widely broadcast in Australia, causing consternation in a country that has been a close U.S. ally.
Trump has faced fierce criticism for his handling of weeklong protests of the death in custody of an unarmed African-American man, George Floyd, in Minneapolis.
George Floyd died after a white police officer knelt on his neck for more than 8 minutes, including more than 2 minutes after he’d stopped moving.
In several cities, the demonstrations have spiraled into rioting, violent confrontations with police and looting, prompting National Guard deployments to around two dozen states and strictly enforced curfews.
Payne steered clear of criticizing Trump directly, highlighting the balancing act U.S. allies face when registering unease with his administration.
“This is obviously a very troubling period in the United States and a very tough period at so many levels,” she told ABC radio.
“We are always supportive of people’s right to peaceful protest and we encourage all involved on both sides to exercise restraint and avoid violence.”
© Agence France-Presse