Josie Huang is a California-based public radio reporter who was arrested at a Los Angeles protest, where the sheriff’s office says someone shouted, “we hope you die” outside the hospital where two wounded deputies were “fighting for their lives.”
Conflicting information emerged about the events leading up to Huang’s arrest. Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputies said Huang ran toward deputies and interfered with the arrest of man who was protesting, and said she did not identify herself as press and did not have press credentials. Huang captured audio and video of her arrest in which she identified herself as a reporter.
Earlier in the evening, two sheriff’s deputies were shot multiple times in Compton. Read more about the shooting here.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Huang Shared Videos of Her Arrest on Twitter & Wrote About Her Experience
Huang, a reporter with the NPR affiliate KPCC and the public media website LAist, was booked on a misdemeanor charge of obstruction of justice and released from jail a few hours later, according to KTLA and Huang’s Twitter account. Huang wrote on Twitter just before 5 a.m. that she was released for the jail and headed home. An earlier tweet showed her coverage of the protest outside the hospital. LAist reported Huang was taken to the women’s jail at the Century Regional Detention Center and released at about 4 a.m.
“Hi, all. I’m out of county jail and am headed home. Thank you for caring. I have seen @LASDHQ tweets and have thoughts and videos to share soon after a little rest,” Huang wrote on Twitter.
A few hours later, she shared the videos and an account of her experiences. The video shows her phone clatter to the ground.
“I’m a reporter! I’m with KPCC!” she shouted.
She screamed and repeatedly shouted “KPCC!”
Another video shows her filming the arrest of the first man. She said her phone was on zoom. Deputies told her to back up. She wrote on Twitter she had nowhere to back up. She said she was wearing her press badge. Before her arrest, she said she was covering the shooting.
“One of the deputies is a mom of a 6 year-old. I felt my chest tighten thinking about the little boy,” she wrote on Twitter.
She said she was in her car “tying things up” with an editor when she heard a commotion outside and went to see what it was. She was wearing her press badge, she said. She shared video of the arrest of a man, which was followed by her own arrest.
“Thank you all for the support and to the loveliest colleagues at @KPCC and @LAist. Our newsroom works really hard to cover our community and is proud to exercise our 1st Amendment rights, along with all the rest of you,” her thread concluded.
LASD wrote on Twitter she ran toward deputies and interfered with the arrest of a protester. They said she did not have press credentials on her person and did not identify herself as press. A fellow KPCC reporter, Frank Stoltze, disputed that account, saying she captured audio of her arrest and identified herself as a reporter.
“NEW: @josie_huang tells us #LASD deputies knocked her cellphone from her hands when they arrested her..and that it was recording video at the time. The audio is troubling. You can hear Josie repeatedly identifying herself as a @KPCC reporter & yelling “You’re hurting me”
@LAist,” he wrote.
2. Huang’s Twitter Account Showed She Was Covering the Shooting of 2 Sheriff’s Deputies & Following the LA Hospital Protest
Huang’s Twitter account provides some documentation of her activity throughout the night of her arrest. She shared a video on Twitter from Compton about two hours after the shooting, which showed police responding to the shooting of two deputies. She later shared a photo of Sheriff Alex Villanueva at a press conference, where he shared details of the shooting.
“Sheriff Villanueva speaking outside St. Francis where 2 deputies are being treated after being shot in Compton: ‘This is a somber reminder that this is a dangerous job, and actions, words have consequences and our jobs don’t get easier because people don’t like law enforcement,'” Huang wrote on Twitter.
She later shared video from the protest outside the hospital.
“A tense situation developing in Lynwood as a handful of protesters on sidewalk shout at deputies outside St. Francis medical center where 2 deputies are recovering from surgery after being shot tonight in Compton,” she wrote on Twitter.
Earlier tweets show she had done extensive coverage of Los Angeles protests.
3. Huang Said She Was Trying to Document the Arrest of a Protester When She Was Arrested Herself
LAist, one of the companies for which Huang works, said the reporter was trying to document the arrest of a protester when she was arrested herself. LASD said she was arrested because she was obstructing justice, and said she did not identify herself as press. LAist shared a photo of her arrest and disputed the claim she did not identify herself.
“This is our terrific reporter @josie_huang who has been covering this story for hours. @LACoSheriff @LASDHQ where is Josie? Why are reporters being arrested? Where can I go get her?” Megan Garvey of KPCC and LAist wrote on Twitter.
ABC 7 captured a video of the arrest. Reporters said she rushed up to the scene to see what was going on, and deputies arrested her. A badge can be seen around her neck.
4. LAist & KPCC Demanded an Apology for Huang’s Arrest, & Officials Said They Would Convene a Special Meeting to Examine It
KPCC issued a statement on Huang’s arrest, acknowledging the stress deputies were facing after two of their own were shot, and asking for an apology for their reporter’s arrest. LAist reported the statement.
We offer condolences to the two sheriff deputies who were shot Saturday evening. These are challenging and stressful times for everyone, but Josie Huang was arrested while doing her job. The charges should be dropped. Her arrest is the latest in a series of troubling interactions between our reporters and some local law enforcement officers. Journalists provide an essential service, providing fair, accurate and timely journalism and without them, our democracy is at risk.
Mac Huntsman, L.A. County Inspector told Frank Stoltze of KPCC that he is opening an investigation into Huang’s arrest, LAist reported. Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who represents Lynwood, called for Huntsman to conduct an investigation. He added “The Citizens Oversight Commission must convene a special meeting on this matter.”
Ridley-Thomas wrote on Twitter, “We must continue pray for the two ambushed sheriff deputies and their families. We must also require that the Inspector General launch an immediate investigation into the arrest of @josie_huang. The Citizens Oversight Commission must convene a special meeting on this matter.”
5. Huang Has Been a Radio Reporter & Producer in Los Angeles for More Than 8 Years
Huang’s LinkedIn page shows she has been a radio reporter in Los Angeles for more than eight years. Before that, she worked as a producer and host in Maine, and also held a staff writing position.
Her KPCC bio identifies her as an Asian American Communities Correspondent.
“More Asian Americans live in L.A. County than any other county in the U.S. The communities are varied and complex and often invisible in the mainstream media. I tell the stories of recent immigrants and families who have been here for generations to answer the question: How do you navigate the intersection of being Asian and American and what impact does that have on L.A.’s future?” her bio says.
Her LAist articles list shows she has covered a wide variety of topics, including protests, a code enforcement officer’s challenges of completing his job while social distancing, the death of a beloved Griffith Park Carousel operator, vandalism and wildfires.