Ryan Kailath, an Indian American reporter for WWNO New Orleans Public Radio in Louisiana was arrested while he was covering police violence protests in Baton Rouge July 9. As per reports, Kailath took to his personal website to display how his charge of simple obstruction of a highway of commerce may not have been warranted. “As this video of the two minutes leading up to my arrest clearly shows, I never set foot in the roadway,” Kailath wrote on his website as a caption of a video capturing the protest.
While covering protests in Baton Rouge, at least three reporters have found themselves in the headlines for spending time in jail, Chris Slaughter, the assistant news director for WAFB, Breitbart News reporter Lee Stranahan and a New Orleans public radio reporter, who described the experience simply as “scary.”
Ryan Kailath was on the ground reporting on protests in Baton Rouge when he said the scene quickly escalated as members of the new black panther party got there. “The police and the panthers started clashing, and it got pretty violent, and guns were swinging around. At that point I thought, ‘OK, this is a little too hot for me.’ I backed up to walk away,” Kailath said.
He said he was standing on the grass shooting a video on his iPhone when police behind him forced him into the street. He was then tackled to the ground and arrested all while he was still shooting video.
“I repeated as you can hear in the video over and over again that I was a journalist. It didn’t seem to make a difference,” Kailath said. “I was on my face on my stomach with my hands behind my back with two or three officers pining me down. One of the arresting officers said to me, ‘I’m tired of ya’ll saying you’re journalists.'”
The protest in Baton Rouge drew members of the New Black Panther Party with police in riot gear in a standoff with the protesters. Kailath explained in a report with another WWNO reporter that protests had been planned throughout the area, but he was able to go to one by a mall. “When I got there it was honestly kind of falling apart. It was a little bit disorganized,” he described. “Protesters didn’t seem to know where they were going.”
Kailath was charged with obstructing the roadway and spent 22 hours in jail with about 30 protestors. He said he’s of Indian decent but was processed as a black male. “I can’t know what’s in another man’s heart, but you can see in the video I’ve posted there’s another reporter about eight feet to my left in the purple shirt. He happens to be white. He wasn’t arrested, and I was,” Kailath said.”Nobody who is obeying the law should be arrested,” Kailath said.