A member of a press collective known as the 45th Absurdist Brigade was shoved by a federal officer covering protests in downtown Portland, Oregon, on July 22, 2020.
Protests had been held in Portland on almost a nightly basis since the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25. The Portland protests had grown more intense as the presence of federal law enforcement increased in early July. A temporary restraining order on July 2 that barred the Portland police from harming or impeding journalists wasn’t expanded to include federal agents until July 23. The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker is documenting assaults, arrests and other incidents involving journalists covering BLM protests across the country.
On the night of July 21, the “Wall of Moms” and thousands of other demonstrators converged on the Mark O. Hatfield U.S. courthouse downtown for a number of confrontations with the federal agents that continued past midnight, according to the local KPTV news station.
The journalist, who asked not to be named, was filming on the sidewalk across from the courthouse. A video the journalist posted to the collective’s Twitter at 1:57 a.m. shows officers advancing on a line of protesters with pepper balls and batons.
The journalist told the Tracker that while filming the scene with a phone, they witnessed a few people get shoved by police officers. The journalist attempted to stand back from the crowd by staying on the sidewalk, not huddled with other protesters or members of the press. An officer ran by and physically pushed several people back, including the journalist, who added that they may have been shoved with a baton.
“I was standing there filming and I got shoved,” the journalist said. “They just came out and shoved like four people in a row. And I was one of them.”
The journalist said they were clearly marked as “press” by large letters on their helmet, a sticker on their back and front, and press identification. However, they weren’t sure if they were targeted as press because officers were pushing a lot of people back.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which has coordinated the federal presence in Portland, didn’t respond to a request for comment about the incidents.