Shortly after, Tirado was hit in the face with a foam bullet, which broke the goggles she was wearing and left her permanently blind in one eye.
“There’s no way that they could have mistaken me — with a professional camera — for anything but working press,” she said.
Now Tirado is suing the City of Minneapolis, its police chief and others over her injury.
The Press Freedom Tracker has verified more than 400 such incidents across 60 cities.
“Journalists have a clear First Amendment right to cover public events,” Freedom of the Press Foundation advocacy director Parker Higgins said in a statement.
Tai-Heng Cheng, an attorney with Sidley Austin who took on Tirado’s case pro bono, said the case will have important implications not just for Tirado but also for all journalists working to deliver reports to the American public from the ground amid the demonstrations.
“The US Constitution is clear: you simply do not shoot journalists covering civil protests. It is fundamentally un-American,” Cheng said. “And we brought this lawsuit for Linda because it’s really important, we think, to establish that principle.”
“As a freelancer without the protections of a press desk and the attorneys that would come with a network or a news masthead — freelancers are certainly left to themselves,” Tirado said. “I’m definitely going to be looking at surgery bills for at least the next few months. I just got the first bills rolling in, and they’re pretty big, so we’ll see how this goes.”
She said she is now grappling with what the future of her work will be like after recovering from her injury, but she is certain she will continue working.
“I think the nature of my work is going to have to substantially change, given that I am a frontline journalist, and it’s a question of how I’m going to heal up and whether I’ll be able to safely go on location,” Tirado said. “But, yes, I am still going to keep working. There’s absolutely no way this stops me.”