Skip to main content

Man charged with misdemeanor assault of journalist who was covering Trump's Duluth rally

He's accused of hitting a WCCO photojournalist's phone out of his hand as he recorded a confrontation between the suspect and Joe Biden supporters.

A 70-year-old man from southern Minnesota has been cited in connection to an assault on a WCCO photojournalist who was covering President Donald Trump's visit to Duluth last week. 

Duane Waldriff, of Lamberton, was cited with misdemeanor assault and disorderly conduct in connection to the Sept. 30 incident. He's accused of hitting WCCO photojournalist Dymanh Chhoun's phone out of his hand while he tried to record an encounter between Waldriff and Joe Biden supporters, according to reports.

"Our office looked at all currently available evidence and asked the Duluth Police Department to issue a citation based on our review," Duluth City Attorney Rebecca St. George said in a statement, according to WDIO. "We take all criminal matters very seriously, and will prosecute this case accordingly." 

The incident happened at 5:50 p.m. near Airport Road and Venture Avenue, the Duluth Police Department said. Last week, police shared the video Chhoun recorded on its Facebook page in hopes the public could help identify the man. 

Police said prior to the start of the video recording, a man and woman were in a verbal argument when the man, now identified as Waldriff, saw it was being recorded and approached Chhoun, hitting his phone to the ground. 

In the Chhoun's video, Waldriff said, “You guys want to be peaceful? Be peaceful! You want to be violent? Come to me!” 

After hitting the phone, Waldriff left "without incident" and "several minutes" later it was reported to the police. No one was injured and no property damage was reported.

Waldriff told the Star Tribune on Thursday that he didn't know he'd been cited, saying Chhoun violated his space and he didn't know it's legal to film people in public spaces without their consent. 

“He was aggressively coming after me, and I defended myself," Waldriff told the paper, noting he didn't realize until after that Chhoun was a member of the press (Chhoun said he was wearing a press badge and WCCO jacket). 

If convicted, Waldriff could face up to 90 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000, WCCO says

Bring Me The News has reached out to the Duluth City Attorney's Office for comment.

Sign up for our BREAKING NEWS newsletters

Last week's incident isn't the only attack against journalists in Minnesota in the past few months while reporters cover protests or other stories. 

Aaron Lavinsky, a photojournalist with the Star Tribune, tweeted on Sept. 24 about multiple people threatening to break his camera if he didn't stop taking pictures while he was covering a protest in Minneapolis.

In August, a photojournalist for Alpha News, a conservative website, tweeted about and reported to police that protesters hit her with a water bottle, threw a traffic cone at her and tossed her phone into a fountain. 

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

The incidents in Minnesota mirror a trend of attacks on press freedoms that's been seen across the United States, with President Trump recently saying that violence against journalists is a "beautiful sight."

From May 25-Oct. 8, there have been more than 856 press freedom incidents, including 118-plus arrests, 215 physical attacks (153 by law enforcement) and 90 equipment/newsroom damage reports in the United States, the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker says.

It has been tracking and verifying reports of journalists across the country being assaulted, arrested or prevented from documenting protests related to the death of George Floyd by Minneapolis police on May 25. 

Minneapolis and St. Paul come in at No. 2 for cities with the most reported press freedom incidents in the U.S. since Floyd's death.

Next Up

UgstadRoadJunction

Charges: Teen speeding before crash that killed mother, injured her son

The teenager was driving at speeds between 72-89 mph at the time of the crash.

Northland Vapor in Moorhead, Minn.

Northland Vapor calls St. Paul regulators 'overzealous' in lawsuit over THC sales

The small Minnesota business said the lawsuit was "misleading" and "shameful."

image

Excelsior chocolate shop ransacked by thieves to reopen

Truffle Hill will reopen to the public on Friday.

https://www.dol.gov/sites/dolgov/files/OPA/newsreleases/2022/11/SOLWHDPSSI%20FILINGS.pdf

Company agrees to changes after child workers found in MN meat plants

An investigation found children ages 13-17 working hazardous jobs at the plants.

soda-g7792ca8e9_1280

Drinks can company to lay off almost 100 workers, close St. Paul plant

State authorities were informed of the impending closure.

MinceyMug

Suspect in Minneapolis bar killing charged with weapons crime

The suspect has not been charged with murder in the case as of Wednesday.

snow, blowing snow

A monster storm is coming next week: What will happen?

What we know with high confidence at this point is that there will be a monster storm in the central U.S. by the early and middle part of next week.

police lights

Boy safe after kidnapping by non-custodial parent in Mankato

The search prompted the temporary shutdown of I-35 Tuesday night.

Mugshots

11 face charges after being found 'exploring' Fridley sewer system

A 911 caller reported seeing a group removing a manhole cover Monday night.

Related

Duane Waldriff

Trump supporter pleads guilty over incident with WCCO journalist in Duluth

The incident happened a few hours before Donald Trump held a rally in Duluth last September.

dennis hannuksela (1)

Duluth man on parole for murder charged with kidnapping, sexual assault

He's accused of tackling the woman, tying her wrists and sexually assaulting her on a logging road in St. Louis County.

jared fiege

Charges: Duluth man's scheme netted him thousands in COVID relief funds

He is accused of stealing people's identities to submit fake Unemployment Insurance applications.

emily larson duluth mayor

Duluth mayor responds to Trump caravan that blocked street outside her home

“This was simply another example to an attempt to utilize power to control a woman who, in their estimation, stepped out of line," she said.

Trump protest

Man charged for throwing punch outside President Trump rally

The victim was reportedly leaving Target Center when he was attacked.

Screen Shot 2020-09-30 at 11.16.18 PM

What did President Trump say at his Duluth rally?

He stopped for a fundraiser on Lake Minnetonka first.

duluth police

Charges: Former Duluth man sexually assaulted teen in 2003

DNA led to the charges after nearly 20 years.

Flickr - police lights squad siren - Edward Kimmel

Duluth man arrested after police chase in stolen pickup truck

He was driving a vehicle that had been reported stolen in North Dakota, police said.