NewsNation reporter Evan Lambert, who is gay and Black, was forcibly removed from a press conference in Ohio on Wednesday when he objected to his treatment by police officers at the event.
Five officers surrounded Lambert, 34, at the back of a gymnasium where Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) was conducting a news conference about a local train derailment. While fellow reporters recorded the event, Lambert was wrangled from the room, thrown to the floor on his stomach, and cuffed. He was taken into custody and delivered to a nearby police station.
Lambert had been reporting live from the back of the gymnasium when was told by police to cut short his report when the governor began to speak, according to Preston Swigart, a photographer with Lambert at the time.
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Lambert complied but objected.
“From their standpoint, he didn’t obey orders when he was told to stop talking,” Swigart told NewsNation. “Gymnasiums are echoey and loud and sound kind of carries, so I’m guessing that they just didn’t like the fact that there was sound competing with the governor speaking, even though it was all the way at the other end of the room.”
Lambert, a Washington, D.C. correspondent, was in Ohio to cover the train derailment in East Palestine, a small town on the border with Pennsylvania. Ten cars carrying hazardous materials were among the 50 that derailed last Friday, sending toxic fumes over the area.
NewsNation reporter Megan Lee said she witnessed the altercation and saw officers get physical with Lambert.
“It seems like there was some type of physical altercation toward Evan. And then, I remember hearing Evan say like, ‘This is assault,’ or something.” According to Lee, that’s when officers got aggressive.
“Honestly, I was in so much shock that they were trying to not let him do his job — it was shocking to me,” she said.
“I can’t believe this,” one reporter is heard saying as Lambert is wrestled to the floor. “This is horrible!”
“This is what it’s like to be a Black reporter in 2023,” says Lambert, as a female officer pulls his wrist restraints tight.
“I’m a reporter with NewsNation. It’s all being recorded right now,” Lambert adds. The female officer replies, “I hope it is.”
Lambert was released from the Columbiana County Jail hours after his arrest.
“I’m doing fine right now. It’s been an extremely long day,” Lambert told NewsNation anchor Ashley Banfield after his release. “No journalist expects to be arrested when you’re doing your job, and I think that’s really important that that doesn’t happen in our country.”
At the same news conference, Gov. DeWine responded to reporters’ questions about Lambert’s arrest minutes before.
“It has always been my practice that if I’m doing a press conference, someone wants to report out there and they want to be talking back to the people back on channel, whatever, they have every right to do that,” DeWine said. “If someone was stopped from doing that, or told they could not do that, that was wrong. It was nothing that I authorized.”