Independent journalist Teebs Auberdine said she was shot at and shoved by law enforcement officers while covering protests in front of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility in Portland, Oregon, on the night of Aug. 19, 2020.
The protests were among 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.
Law enforcement officers in Portland had 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. The city agreed to a preliminary injunction in July to not to arrest or harm any journalists or legal observers of the protests or impede their work. The injunction was expanded to include federal agents later that month.
Throughout the night of Aug. 19, federal officers and Portland police worked to push protesters away from the ICE facility and direct the crowd toward Elizabeth Caruthers Park, a few blocks north, according to The Oregonian. Police declared a riot at around 11 p.m. after demonstrators had thrown various objects at the officers and spray-painted across the building's windows.
Auberdine told the Tracker that within 15 minutes of arriving that night, she was shot in the arm with a beanbag-like metal round fired by Department of Homeland Security agents. "I was standing on the northwest corner [of the facility]," she said. "It was a direct line between the DHS who shot me. There was no one in front of or behind me."
Soon after, law enforcement officers began a push that continued for about six blocks to the north of the facility, she said. "I was forced to move along the sidewalk, so I didn't have a chance to really account for what had just gone on," she told the Tracker. "There was a hole in my sweater and red marking as well. It hurt a lot, but I didn't know immediately that I was bleeding."
She found street medics to help clean and bandage her arm, she said, and now has a scar.
Later that night, while Portland police officers were walking in a riot line to move protesters away from the ICE building, the officers "suddenly bull rushed and grabbed their batons," Auberdine said. She was the "first one in front of them," and got "shoved onto the hood of an SUV."
Auberdine was livestreaming at the time, and at around the 7:25 mark, officers can be seen suddenly running towards several individuals and pushing them toward a car. For a brief moment, her camera flips sideways, as she gets pushed. A loudspeaker can be heard urging protesters and journalists to head to the north.
She said she had a vest visibly labelled with press markings. "I think this type of violence has a much greater impact on me because this is a direct physical violation…of my body," she told the Tracker.
The Portland Police Bureau has said it wouldn't comment on incidents involving journalists covering the protests, citing the continuing ACLU litigation. The DHS didn’t respond to an emailed request for comment.