U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Freelance photojournalist hit by police paint projectile while covering Portland protest

Incident Details

Date of Incident
June 7, 2020
Portland, Oregon
Case number
Case Status
Type of case
Class Action


Was the journalist targeted?
June 7, 2020

Freelance photojournalist Alex Milan Tracy was hit with a green paint projectile fired by police while covering a protest in Portland, Oregon, on June 7, 2020.

The protest was one of many that broke 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 in Minneapolis. The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker is documenting assaults, arrests and other incidents involving journalists covering protests across the country.

In Portland, nightly protests over the death of Floyd began on May 29, prompting Mayor Ted Wheeler to declare an 8 p.m. curfew that lasted three days. Even after the curfew was lifted, journalists continued to be targeted by police, according to a class action suit the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Oregon filed against the Portland Police Bureau in June. Tracy is a plaintiff in the suit, which resulted in a temporary restraining order and an agreement by the city in July not to arrest, harm or impede any journalists or legal observers.

Tracy was covering one of three protests in the city on the night of June 7. The protest originated at the Multnomah County Justice Center with a speech by faith leaders. The protest remained peaceful until 11 p.m., when protesters began to shake the fence around the Justice Center and police countered with pepper balls. Around 11:45 p.m., an unlawful assembly was declared and the use of crowd control munitions escalated.

As officers cleared the area in front of the Justice Center, Tracy was hit in the lower leg by the police paint marker round, according to the ACLU declaration. Tracy wasn’t available for further comment.

In a video Tracy tweeted of when he got hit, green paint can be seen on the ground where he had been standing. He also tweeted a picture of his pants covered in green paint below the knee.

Just before midnight, Tracy fell while running from a police charge. “I fell backwards on a curb, got up and turned around and was seconds away from getting grabbed by riot police who were tackling people to the ground as they made arrests,” he said in the declaration. In a video Tracy tweeted, he appears to fall about 20 seconds in, and then a protester can be seen getting tackled as Tracy gets up to run.

The PPB has said they wouldn't comment on incidents involving journalists covering the protests, citing continuing litigation.

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