Committee to Protect Journalists Advises Inauguration Reporters to Not Wear Press Lanyards

Committee to Protect Journalists Advises Inauguration Reporters to Not Wear Press Lanyards
Concertina razor wire tops the 8-foot 'non-scalable' fence that surrounds the U.S. Capitol, in Washington, on Jan. 14, 2020. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Mimi Nguyen Ly

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), a non-profit that promotes press freedom and journalists’ rights, issued a safety advisory for covering the Jan. 20 inauguration, included in which was a recommendation for journalists to not wear lanyards around their necks.

“It is recommended that journalists avoid wearing lanyards around their neck for safety reasons,” the advisory reads. It proceeded to refer to a video of Associated Press photographer John Minchillo being attacked in Washington on Jan. 6.

The video shows Minchillo being pushed around and hit by some protesters. Some had mistaken him for being part of Antifa because he was dressed in black with a gas mask on. Antifa adherents commonly use this “black bloc” tactic to hide their identities. The crowd let him go after he showed them his press pass, which was on a lanyard around his neck.

“Be aware that straps that release when pulled could lead to media credentials being stolen. Consider a velcro pouch on your bicep instead,” the CPJ advisory reads.

The CPJ also advises, “Wear clothing that helps you ‘blend in,’ that doesn’t look too ’tactical‘ or ’military,’ and that allows you to move swiftly. Try and avoid loose clothing, political slogans, media branding, military colors/patterns, colors associated with certain groups (e.g. black is associated with anti-fascist [antifa] groups), and flammable materials (e.g. nylon).”

“Take the minimum amount of equipment necessary with you, noting that recording equipment was attacked and damaged on January 6 by violent protesters in Washington, D.C.,” the non-profit also recommended.

President Donald Trump on Monday approved the District of Columbia’s emergency declaration after Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser requested it, saying that “further violence is likely during the Inaugural period.”

She also wrote that based on intelligence assessments her administration has received, “we must prepare for large groups of trained and armed extremists to come to Washington, DC.”

More than 20,000 National Guard troops will be deployed on Jan. 20, Inauguration Day.

Violence took place at and near the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, including in a breach of the Capitol building by various groups that interrupted lawmakers who were gathered to count and certify the electoral votes for the now-President-elect Joe Biden.

One woman, Air Force veteran Ashli Babbitt, died that day after being shot by a Capitol police officer inside the building. It is unclear who instigated the breach of the building. A video of the event shows a known left-wing activist encouraging and convincing Capitol police to let trespassers through at several points.
Separately, the civil unrest on Capitol grounds left at least four more people dead—three due to medical conditions, and a U.S. Capitol Police officer was confirmed dead by the department on Jan. 7, due to injuries sustained while on duty responding to the breach.
The violence on Capitol grounds occurred amid otherwise peaceful protests that were taking place in surrounding areas calling for election integrity.
Trump on Wednesday issued a public message calling on Americans to promote peace, amid reports of planned demonstrations to take place in the coming days.

“I am asking everyone who has ever believed in our agenda to be thinking of ways to ease tensions, calm tempers, and help to promote peace in our country,” Trump said. “There has been reporting that additional demonstrations are being planned in the coming days, both here in Washington and across the country.”

“I have been briefed by the U.S. Secret Service on the potential threats. Every American deserves to have their voices heard in a respectful and peaceful way. That is your First Amendment right. But I must emphasize that there must be no violence, no law-breaking, and no vandalism of any kind.”