U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Independent journalist injured by projectile while covering Portland protest

Incident Details

Date of Incident
July 21, 2020
Location
Portland, Oregon

Assault

Was the journalist targeted?
No
July 21, 2020

Independent journalist Garrison Davis was hit by a crowd-control munition fired by federal law enforcement officials while covering a protest outside the Mark O. Hatfield federal courthouse in Portland, Oregon, on July 21, 2020.

Davis was covering one of the many protests that broke out 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. 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.

On the night of July 21, the “Wall of Moms” and thousands of other demonstrators converged on the courthouse downton for another night of confrontations with the federal agents, according to the local KPTV news station. When some individuals began pulling off the plywood blocking access to the courthouse shortly after 11 p.m., federal agents emerged from the building to clear the area.

Shortly before midnight, Davis was hit in the thigh by a projectile as federal agents were moving back into the courthouse.

“As the Feds retreat into the courthouse they shoot tons of impact additions, like rubber bullets, towards anyone they see. I was hit pretty hard in the thigh,” he tweeted.

The accompanying video, taken while Davis was standing behind a concrete pillar, shows the retreating federal agents shooting through tear gas.

Davis posted photos of his injury, which he said was sustained through “heavy duty” pants, in a follow-up tweet.

“I had to limp for a few days, it wasn’t pleasant,” Davis told the Tracker.

He does not believe that he was targeted. “I think I put myself in a position to get a good shot, and they were firing rubber bullets wildly in that direction and I got hit,” he said.

The Department of Homeland Security, which has coordinated the federal presence in Portland, said in a statement that officers were “forced” to leave the courthouse to repel a “mob” of protesters. DHS didn’t respond to a request for comment on this incident.

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