Documentary filmmaker Lance Bangs was pushed by law enforcement officers while covering demonstrations in Portland, Oregon, on Nov. 4, 2020, according to videos posted on social media.
Protests had been held in Portland on almost a nightly basis since the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25. The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker is documenting assaults, arrests and other incidents involving journalists covering BLM protests across the country.
There were two main demonstrations in Portland on Nov. 4, with one group calling for every vote cast in the U.S. presidential election to be counted and another expressing a combination of dismay with the electoral system and support for the Black Lives Matter movement. While the protests were organized separately, the two groups converged briefly at one point in the night. After some protesters smashed windows of downtown businesses, law enforcement officers declared the protests a “riot” at around 6:45 p.m.
Several law enforcement agencies were involved in policing the protests, with the Portland Police Bureau, Multnomah County Sheriff's Office and Oregon State Police all working together after Oregon Gov. Kate Brown ordered a “unified command” to respond to protests. The Oregon National Guard was also activated to help with enforcement.
The initial round of shoving incidents occurred a little after 8 p.m. near the corner of Southwest Park Ave. and Southwest Washington Street, where a group of journalists got caught up in a push by law enforcement officers to clear protesters from the area.
Bangs was shoved by an officer while taking footage for Vice News. Video posted at 11:18 p.m on Twitter by Tess Owen, a senior reporter for Vice who was covering the protests with Bangs, captures law enforcement officers yelling “Move!” at protesters. Bangs was “repeatedly jabbed in back by an officer assigned to unified command, who then dragged him to the ground,” Owen tweeted.
In a follow-up tweet, Owen posted a video that she said shows Bangs being “dragged to the ground by an officer with the Unified Command.” The video appears to capture a law enforcement officer pushing as the camera goes askew. People can be heard saying, “You’re dragging him,” and, “He got pushed down.”
Bangs, Owen and Vice News didn’t return requests for comment from the Tracker.
Since July, law enforcement officers from the PPB and federal agencies have been barred by court rulings from arresting, harming or impeding journalists or legal observers of the protests. The American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Oregon didn’t include the state police or National Guard when it filed the cases.
The PPB has said it wouldn't comment on incidents involving journalists covering the protests, citing the continuing ACLU litigation. The Oregon State Police didn’t respond to a request for comment on the shoving incidents.