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White Cops Tackle, Arrest Black Gay TV Reporter During Press Conference

White Cops Tackle, Arrest Black Gay TV Reporter During Press Conference

News Nation correspondent Evan Lambert.

"This is what it's like to be a Black reporter in 2023," Evan Lambert said after being thrown to the ground and arrested for allegedly speaking too loudly at a press conference.


Police officials in Ohio are under fire after officers forced a journalist to the ground and arrested him while he was reporting live during a press conference held by Gov. Mike DeWine to update the public on safety concerns regarding a train derailment.

Evan Lambert was on television conducting a live shot for NewsNation on Wednesday afternoon when police officers approached him and asked him to be quiet.

Lambert, who is gay, was positioned in the back of a gymnasium, at the front of which Gov. DeWine spoke to a small crowd.

A train derailment in East Palestine on Friday night sparked a large fire, and after that, concerns emerged that a significant explosion or toxic gas release might occur. National media members, including Lambert, descended on the town over the weekend to cover the disaster. By Wednesday, Ohio authorities ended a mandatory evacuation order, stating that residents were safe to return to their homes.

It is the governor’s discussion of the latter at which police confronted Lambert.

The news conference was scheduled to start at 3 p.m. but was delayed until about 5 p.m. when Lambert was scheduled to be on the air.

When asked to stop his recording, Lambert appeared to comply and ended the live shot.

It’s unclear what happened next; however, moments later, bystander video shows four white police officers surrounding Lambert, who is Black.

NewsNation reports that Lambert had concluded his live shot and was explaining what he was doing to officers who had pulled him aside.

The situation escalates when the officers appear unmoved by Lambert’s explanation, gesture toward the door, and begin encroaching further upon his personal space.

“Don’t touch me,” Lambert can be heard saying before officers grab him and pull him out of the room.

Moments later, three officers lunge at Lambert and violently throw him to the ground.

“I can’t believe this,” gasps a woman who can be heard pleading with officers, explaining that Lambert is a professional journalist. “This is horrible,” she adds.

“This is what it’s like to be a Black reporter in 2023,” Lambert says, his face on the floor, laying flat on the ground with his arms handcuffed behind his back.

A Black law enforcement officer from what appeared to be a separate agency observed the encounter but remained uninvolved.

Officers took Lambert away to a police vehicle and to jail over the objections of reporters who repeatedly asked officers why the journalist was being arrested.

“Evan is safe and calm, and continues to act with professionalism and integrity that he brings to his work each day. As you see from the videos, he was doing his job — what hundreds of journalists do without incident — reporting to the public on a matter of urgent, critical interest to our audience,” wrote NewsNation Washington, D.C. bureau chief Mike Viquiera on Twitter after Lambert’s arrest.

Court records indicate that Lambert was charged with criminal trespass and resisting arrest. He was released late Wednesday evening after posting a $750 bond.

After he was released, he spoke with NewsNation’s Ashleigh Banfield.

Obviously rattled from experience, Lambert spoke carefully as he held back tears through glassy eyes.

“I have to be kind of careful about what I say, but as you can see, I’m out,” he said. “Most things are on video of the situation, so it’s pretty clear to see what happened. But I’ll just say this, I’m just trying to do my job as I am continuing to do right now, and that’s what it’s all about —protecting the First Amendment and democracy — trying to help people get information. We were talking about this major accident that impacted hundreds, thousands of people in this town, and that’s just what we were trying to do at the time and what I continued to try to do.”

Lambert: 'No journalist expects to be arrested when you're doing your job'

Lambert did not respond to The Advocate’s request for comment.

Gov. DeWine’s press secretary, Dan Tierney, tells The Advocate that the governor couldn’t see what happened because a bank of cameras blocked his view, but he did hear a disruption in the rear of the room.

“He was later advised that a reporter who had been giving a live report during the briefing was asked to end the broadcast because the volume of his reporting was perceived to be interfering with the event,” Tierney says.

He says that the governor didn’t request that Lambert be asked to stop broadcasting and that he didn’t know that any such a request had been made.

“[H]e has always respected the media’s right to report live before, during, and after his press briefings, and the interruption to the reporter’s broadcast should not have taken place.”

Tierney added that since DeWine hadn’t witnessed what happened, his office couldn’t comment on what led to Lambert’s arrest.

The Advocate inquired with East Palestine police chief J.C. Brown III for a justification for the arrest but did not hear back.

Journalists and others online criticized the actions of the police officials.

Thursday afternoon, NLGJA, the Association of LGBTQ Journalists condemned the police officers' actions.

"It is vitally important that journalists be free to perform their public duty of reporting on relevant news and events. Lambert's arrest was unacceptable and a drastic overreaction on the part of the East Palestine police. Nobody should have to ace charges for doing their job," said NLGJA national board president Ken Miguel in a statement posted online.

Lambert is scheduled to be arraigned on February 23 at 8:30 a.m. in Columbiana County Municipal Court.

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