Independent journalist Teebs Auberdine said she was threatened by an individual while covering a protest in downtown Portland, Oregon, on Aug. 25, 2020.
The protest was one of many demonstrations that broke out in response to police violence and in support of Black Lives Matter 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.
Several hundred people marched to City Hall the evening of Aug. 25, and the police quickly declared an “unlawful assembly” after the property was damaged, according to The Oregonian.
While Auberdine was livestreaming, she likely recorded some minor property crime, she said. She was approached by someone dressed in mostly black bloc, a tactic used by some protesters to conceal their identities by wearing black and baggy clothing and face coverings, wearing a helmet and respirator, she told the Tracker. They threatened her, she said, saying, "What did you see? Didn't see shit.”
"I was in the process of moving backward and then they came after me,” she said. “They threatened me and slapped my camera, which destabilized the gimbal, but it didn’t fall out of the clip."
"It was very physically threatening in a non-specific way, but it was very unsettling," she said.
The individual told her that if she filmed in a way that they weren’t comfortable with, she would be "run out" or have her camera smashed, Auberdine told the Tracker.
She asked someone she knew to watch after her, but that person "ended up getting arrested by the Portland Police Bureau that night for standing beside me,” she said. “initially I felt very responsible."
Auberdine was wearing a vest with large press markings on the front and back, she said, and also had a gimbal, microphone and reporting equipment.
“Whoever did it needs to direct their anger somewhere other than inflicting trauma on their allies. I've spent hundreds of hours, plenty of my own $, and sacrificed my health to stream,” she tweeted afterward.
In a follow-up tweet, she added, “Tonight was a mess. I’m a mess.”