The Ohio State University: Columbus Police Use Pepper Spray, Force to Silence Student Journalists Covering Protests

Category: Cases, Free Speech
Schools: The Ohio State University

On June 1, 2020, during a protest following the homicide of George Floyd, three student journalists from Ohio State’s student newspaper, The Lantern, were covering the protest from a campus-adjacent intersection in downtown Columbus, Ohio. Although a curfew was in effect for the city, it did not apply to members of the news media. Police officers approached the student journalists as they covered the protests and told them to go home, citing the curfew. When the student journalists responded that they were members of the news media and therefore exempt, police officers shoved at least one reporter and began pepper spraying all three. FIRE, joined by the Student Press Law Center and the College Media Association, wrote to Ohio State calling on the university to defend its student journalists’ rights by leveraging its close relationship with the Columbus Police to ensure that student journalists will never again be subject to pepper spray, forceful removal, or other adverse actions while covering community events.