Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has called for an investigation into police mistreatment of two Australian journalists who were stationed outside the White House on Monday evening.
Camera operator Tim Myers and reporter Amelia Brace, were on assignment for Australia’s Channel 7, one of the nation’s major networks, covering a speech that United States President Donald Trump delivered through a teleprompter at the Rose Garden.
After the speech, police dressed in riot gear moved to disperse the crowd before the 7 p.m. state curfew.
In an event captured live on video from multiple angles, an officer was seen hitting Myers with a riot shield and punching him in the face. As Myers and Brace moved to flee the area, another officer was also seen approaching the pair and swinging a baton and hitting Brace’s back as they ran.
Both journalists were standing still against a corner prepared to film prior to the attack.
“You heard us yelling there that we were media, but they, they don’t care,” Brace reported after briefly being cut off during the commotion.
The footage that was being broadcast live was met with fury from Australian audiences prompting Morrison to request Arthur Sinodinos, the Australian ambassador to the US, to further investigate the “troubling” matter.
In a statement released on Twitter, US Ambassador to Australia Arthur Culvahouse Jr. said that the embassy “take mistreatment of journalists seriously.”
With the US entering its second week of protests, this incident joins a growing number of reported instances of violent treatment toward members of the press by US law enforcement.
According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), since Friday, there have been more than 125 claims of violation to press freedom reported to the US Press Freedom Tracker, which is managed by the Freedom of the Press Foundation. Reported violations include physical assault, arrest, damage or seizure of equipment.
Only 100 to 150 claims have been documented per year for the past three years.
Managing editor of the tracker Kirsten McCudden told TIME, “It’s unprecedented in scope without a doubt.”
Despite media outrage and backlash, Trump remains vocal in his support of the policing tactics implemented in Washington.
“D.C. had no problems last night. Many arrests. Great job done by all. Overwhelming force. Domination,” he tweeted on Tuesday.
A senior White House official who wished to remain anonymous told AP News that the president wanted to take aggressive action in Washington to create an example for the rest of the country. As a “show of force,” according to two officials from the Department of Defense, Trump ordered military aircraft to fly above Washington on Monday night.
This also comes after the president’s threat to deploy active-duty military across the country if states do not use tough enough measures to quell the growing unrest.
“If a city or a state refuses to take the actions that are necessary to defend the life and property of their residents, then I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them,” said Trump during his Rose Garden speech.
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