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Charges: Protester struck photojournalist with water bottle in Minneapolis

It's among recent incidents in which someone attacks the press.

Note: The charges against Lauren Peterson were dismissed on Friday, Oct. 2. She was misidentified. Read the story here

A St. Anthony woman has been charged in connection to an assault on a freelance journalist during a protest in August. 

Lauren Peterson, 37, of St. Anthony, has been charged with third-degree riot, a gross misdemeanor; two counts of fifth-degree assault, both misdemeanors; and disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor, in connection to the Aug. 24 incident. 

According to the criminal complaint and reports, photojournalist Rebecca Brannon reported to Minneapolis police that between 10-10:30 p.m. on Aug. 24 she was covering a protest for Alpha News near the intersection of 5th Street South and 4th Avenue South when a group of three or more people confronted her, demanding that she leave. 

"As the group moved aggressively toward her, she started backing up because she was afraid of being attacked from behind," the complaint says, noting they threw several items at her, including water bottles. 

The complaint says one woman was yelling and screaming t her and at one point picked up an orange traffic cone, hitting her with it and using it to push her back. 

Brannon took video of the incident on her phone, which was retrieved after it was thrown in a fountain by one of the people in the group. The video appears to show the woman hitting Brannon with a water bottle. 

Investigators used the video, a driver's license photo and a Facebook photo to confirm the suspect is Peterson. 

Peterson isn't the only journalist to face backlash covering protests in the Twin Cities or other events across the state and country. 

Aaron Lavinsky, a photojournalist with the Star Tribune, tweeted Thursday night about multiple people threatening to break his camera if he didn't stop taking pictures. 

KSTP in July said someone cut their camera cord during a report in Anoka. Last week, a Valley News Live reporter was in Moorhead when he was approached by a man who made abusive statements and vandalized their station vehicle.

These are just a handful of actions taken against journalists from bystanders and police while covering protests and other stories in Minnesota and elsewhere in recent months as President Donald Trump continues to sow hatred for journalists. Most recently, the president said violence against journalists is a "beautiful sight" 

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