"I was a threat to nobody": British journalist's story of arrest and assault by US police

12 July 2020, 15:34 | Updated: 12 July 2020, 15:35

By Seán Hickey

A British journalist who was arrested and subsequently assaulted by US police during anti-racism protests told LBC that he is looking at how to get justice from the police.

Andrew Buncombe is the chief US correspondent at The Independent, and he was arrested and assaulted by American police when covering Black Lives Matter protests. He joined Maajid Nawaz to share his story of utter confusion as he was unlawfully arrested in Seattle.

"I'm not trying to say that I'm the world's biggest victim of police abuse or prison abuse" he began, adding that he is "very much aware of what happens every day in this country that don't have my privilege" but his own experience was "a tiny tiny insight into the criminal justice system in the US."

Mr Buncombe said that "from the very outset" he told the police he was a journalist but "it made very little difference to them" he was arrested after arriving at the protester-made Seattle autonomous zone "to speak to people still around" after the police dispersed the crowd.

Maajid wanted to know "on what grounds did they tell you you were being arrested." But the journalist said that "they weren't able to tell" him.

After time in custody, he was then told he was being held on a failure to disperse rule but "if you're a journalist it states you have a right to be there." Which rules out the charge completely.

Mr Buncombe was arrested by police dispersing crowds at Black Lives Matter protests
Mr Buncombe was arrested by police dispersing crowds at Black Lives Matter protests. Picture: PA

"Journalists over here are under threat" Mr Buncombe said, after experiencing such appalling treatment at the hand of American authorities.

He was highly critical of the Trump administration and the fake news phenomenon. "Never has the need for honest journalism been more important" he argued, and the fact he was prevented from doing his job was shocking.

"It sounds like a gross violation of your rights" Maajid said, wondering how the US correspondent plans to go forward from this.

"We're trying to figure out what the best way is to go forward" he said, revealing his plans to forward a complaint to the jail, the police about their treatment.

You can watch Maajid Nawaz' interview with Andrew Buncombe above.