Independent journalist pushed, hit with munitions by police while covering Portland protest

June 30, 2020

Independent journalist Tuck Woodstock said they were pushed several times and hit by crowd-control munitions while covering protests in Portland, Oregon on June 30, 2020.

The Portland-based journalist was covering one of the many protests that have 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.

In Portland, nightly protests over Floyd’s death began on May 29, prompting Mayor Ted Wheeler to declare a curfew that lasted three days. Even after the nightly curfew was lifted, journalists continued to be targeted by police, according to a class-action lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Oregon. Woodstock 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.

The June 30 demonstration took place the day before a planned vote to extend the city’s contract with the police union. Protesters marched over a mile from Peninsula Park to the Portland Police Association headquarters in North Portland.

Soon after protestors arrived at PPA offices around 9 p.m., the police declared an “unlawful assembly” and ordered them to disperse. When Woodstock arrived just after 9:30 p.m., the scene involved police pushing protesters and the press and shooting impact munitions at the crowd, they said.

“I got to the PPA just in time to watch PPB shoving protesters, NLG, and press while insisting that they walk faster,” Woodstock tweeted at 9:26 p.m. In the accompanying video, the camera goes askew as police push people around Woodstock.

About a half hour later, Woodstock was pushed several times when police bull-rushed a crowd of protestors. While trying to film the arrest of some protestors, Woodstock “felt a baton pressed into their back as an officer yelled ‘move, move, move, move,’ directly in their ear,” according to court documents in the ACLU case. Despite informing an officer that they were press, Woodstock was pushed at least four times, the filing said.

Then, a little after 10 p.m., Woodstock was hit by shrapnel from a canister police threw that appeared to explode on the curb in front of them. Woodstock tweeted a video of the incident, writing, “Yup just got hit in the leg with shrapnel. Seems very superficial.”

Woodstock declined to comment further about the incidents.

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]

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