Two Australian reporters were assaulted as they tried to do their jobs amid demonstrations in London over the death of unarmed black man George Floyd.
Nine News Europe correspondent Sophie Walsh says she feared for her life as a man carrying what was thought to be a screwdriver yelled ‘Allah Akbar’ before making stabbing motions and grabbing her.
Hours later her colleague from the same channel had his microphone snatched by a pedestrian in an underground tunnel before running away from an angry mob. Both peaceful protests and riots erupted in across the US last week and have since spread to other countries following the death of Mr Floyd in police custody.
As she reported from the streets of London yesterday, Walsh screamed in horror as a man approached he yelling ‘Allah Akbar’ before grabbing her. Cameraman Jason Conduit and other bystanders gave chase to the assailant.
It is unclear whether the man had a screwdriver in his hand or pocket. He was later arrested on suspicion of making threats to kill, possession of an offensive weapon and possession of class B drugs.
At the time, Ms Walsh was reporting on rioting in Paris, where officers have been using tear gas and firefighters have been sent to tackle blazes.
In a statement, Nine News said: ‘Sophie is grateful for the outpouring of support she has received from the public and wishes to reassure our viewers that she is safe and well.’
Just hours later, correspondent Ben Avery and his cameraman Cade Thompson were surrounded and grabbed by a crowd of people and were forced to take cover in a tunnel.
As a crowd of people followed them a man snatched the microphone and made off with it. The crew then decided to flee the scene and ran towards police officers standing by the Houses of Parliament.
Mr Avery said bottles were ‘flying around’, one of which hit him in the face as he fled.
Speaking from the studio, anchorman Karl Stefanovic said: ‘That just goes to show how dangerous it is for our reporters, for all journalists on the street at the moment trying to cover these riots when emotions are running so high.
‘I spoke to Ben about 10 minutes ago. It was peaceful then, but it was just teetering and one thing that really struck me about what Ben said was the police are outnumbered here.’
About an hour later Mr Avery recalled how some people ‘took exception’ to the crew being there and started pulling their camera down as soon as they went on air.
Then someone yanked the microphone from Mr Avery’s hand before the chase began.
After making their escape, he says the crew realised their security guard had been left behind in the crowd and was ‘taking on’ around 15 people at one stage.
Mr Avery added: ‘It felt like there was a police officer for every single protester there at that stage but it didn’t make much difference.
‘They were just so angry and they were so after us at that stage that even one of police said to me there is not much they could do.’
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