U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Independent journalist injured while covering Portland protest

Incident Details

Date of Incident
July 22, 2020
Portland, Oregon


Was the journalist targeted?
July 22, 2020

Rosie Riddle said she was targeted with projectiles by federal agents in Portland, Oregon, on July 22, 2020, causing injuries that forced her to temporarily stop reporting on the demonstrations.

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.

The Portland protests 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. Rudoff is a plaintiff in the class-action lawsuit, filed by the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Oregon, that led to the ban.

On the night of July 21, the “Wall of Moms” and thousands of other demonstrators converged on the Mark O. Hatfield U.S. Courthouse downtown, where frequent confrontations between protesters and federal agents continued into the early hours of the next morning, according to the local KPTV news station.

A little after 2 a.m on the 22nd, Riddle was outside the courthouse, at the intersection of Southwest Third Avenue and Southwest Salmon Street, when she was hit with crowd-control munitions fired by federal agents, she said.

Riddle was struck after a protester threw a tear gas canister back at federal agents and ran behind her, she told the Tracker. The officers fired pepper balls, hitting Riddle twice in the stomach.

“I don’t know if the cop was trying to shoot through me or misfired or whatever,” she said.

After briefly retreating a few blocks to assess her injury, Riddle returned and continued taking pictures, she said. The situation was calm when she returned, she added, with protesters staying far behind her and away from the federal agents.

But soon after she returned, Riddle was hit again by crowd-control munitions in the leg, she said, adding that she believes the same agent hit her both times.

“I was pretty much alone up there,” she said, noting that no protesters were close to her. “It was just me up there trying to take pictures of the line while nothing was happening.”

Riddle, who was wearing a helmet marked “press” in large white letters and was displaying two red press passes, believes she was targeted the second time she was hit.

The projectile hit the left side of her right calf, causing her to bleed and making it difficult to walk, she told the Tracker, so she stopped reporting to find a medic. The wound was swollen and seeped for a week, she said, adding that she had trouble walking for several weeks and took a week off of reporting due to the injury. The injury left Riddle with a scar that she says still “throbs” when she walks uphill.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which has coordinated the federal presence in Portland, didn’t respond to a request for comment about the incidents.

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