U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Freelance journalist struck in leg by projectile while covering Portland protests

Incident Details

Date of Incident
July 18, 2020
Location
Portland, Oregon

Assault

Was the journalist targeted?
No
July 18, 2020

Freelance journalist Laura Jedeed said she was hit in the leg by a projectile fired by federal law enforcement while she covered a protest in downtown Portland, Oregon, on July 18, 2020.

Jedeed, a contributor to Portland Monthly and Willamette Weekly, was covering one of many protests that had broken out across the U.S. in response to police violence and in support of the Black Lives Matter movement following the May 25 death of George Floyd. The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker is documenting assaults, arrests and other incidents involving journalists covering protests across the country.

The Portland protests, held nightly since late May, had grown more intense as the presence of federal law enforcement increased in early July.

In the early morning hours of July 18, Jedeed was covering a demonstration near the Mark O. Hetfield federal courthouse, where federal officers were stationed. Throughout the night, she told the Tracker, demonstrators “would hang out in front of the courthouse. And then without warning, the feds emerge, [tear] gas the hell out of people and then go back in.”

In one instance around 12:30 a.m., federal officers fired tear gas and rubber bullets, driving protesters north of the courthouse. “They were firing everything and the kitchen sink at protesters retreating down the street,” Jedeed said.

While Jedeed was on Southwest Second Avenue, north of the courthouse, a projectile hit her in the leg. “This was while they were peppering the people who were fleeing with rubber bullets. [But] I don’t know what I was struck with,” she said. “I felt it hit me. And I kept running. After they were done chasing us, I looked down and saw I was bleeding quite a lot.”

A picture of the wound Jedeed posted on Twitter later that morning, shows her bloody leg with a small hole in it.

Jedeed said she was clearly marked as press, wearing a press badge and a neon yellow vest with the words “press” on it. However, she said she didn’t think she was specifically targeted, calling the law enforcement response “indiscriminate.”

Jedeed wasn’t sure what federal agency fired the projectile that struck her. The Department of Homeland Security, which coordinated the federal presence in Portland, didn’t respond to requests for comment.

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