U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Independent journalist pushed by a Portland police officer while covering an arrest

Incident Details

Date of Incident
August 20, 2020
Portland, Oregon


Was the journalist targeted?
August 20, 2020

Independent journalist Scott Keeler said he was pushed by a police officer in the early hours of Aug. 20, 2020, while attempting to film an arrest during a protest in southwest Portland, Oregon.

Keeler, an independent videographer, was covering one of the many protests that had broken out across the U.S. in response to police violence and in support of the Black Lives Matter movement after 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.

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.

Shortly after midnight on Aug. 20, a Portland Police Bureau sergeant approached Keeler and other members of the press, who were standing back from the arrest, to expand the perimeter. Then another officer started pushing Keeler and some other journalists back before dropping a tear gas canister at their feet.

Keeler can be seen in a video posted by Sergio Olmos of Oregon Public Broadcasting kneeling in front of the press scrum in a black helmet and backpack clearly marked press. About 43 seconds into the video, the officer pulls Keeler to his feet and pushes him back, knocking his helmet off.

Keeler tweeted, “Cop just ripped my mask off and threw a tear gas canister under me as I was kneeled filming an arrest of another member of press. I had been in the same position filming for quite a while before this cop decided to target me.”

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].