Freelance journalist shoved by law enforcement in while covering protests in Portland

August 30, 2020

Freelance journalist Alissa Azar was shoved and shot with pepper balls by law enforcement while documenting protesters getting arrested outside the Penumbra Kelly Building, in northeast Portland, Oregon on Aug. 30, 2020, according to social media posts.

Azar was documenting one of the many nightly protests held in Portland in response to police violence and in support of the Black Lives Matter movement following the killing of George Floyd, a Black man, in Minneapolis on May 25. The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker is documenting assaults, arrests and other incidents involving journalists covering protests across the country.

Law enforcement officers in Portland have targeted journalists since the outbreak of the demonstrations, according to a class-action lawsuit filed in June by the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Oregon. The ACLU suit led the city to agree to a preliminary injunction in July to not arrest, harm or impede the work of journalists or legal observers of the protests.

The Kelly building has been a repeated focus of demonstrators because it houses the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office and some Portland Police Bureau units. The Aug. 30 protest was declared an “unlawful assembly” at 10:40 p.m. after protesters threw rocks and eggs at officers, according to the local KATU news station.

Azar tweeted that she “got shot with a pepper bullet for recording an arrest, pushed down to the ground aggressively.”

Griffin Malone, another independent journalist, captured the scene from across the street in a video he posted on Twitter.

The MCSCO didn’t respond to a request for comment. The PPB has said it wouldn't comment on incidents involving journalists covering the protests, citing continuing litigation in the ACLU case.

The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker catalogues press freedom violations in the United States. Email tips to [email protected]

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