U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Independent journalist says was pushed by a Portland law enforcement officer

Incident Details

Date of Incident
August 5, 2020
Portland, Oregon


Was the journalist targeted?
August 5, 2020

Independent journalist Alissa Azar said she was pushed by a law enforcement officer while she was covering protests on Aug. 5, 2020, in Portland, Oregon.

The protest was one of many 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.

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. The ACLU suit led to the city agreeing to a preliminary injunction in July to not arrest, harm or impede the work of journalists or legal observers of the protests.

On Aug. 5, Azar was covering a demonstration that started at Floyd Light City Park in Southeast Portland at around 8 p.m. Protesters then marched to the Portland Police Bureau’s East Precinct station, about a five-minute walk from the park. When protesters arrived at the precinct, some of them vandalized surveillance cameras and set small fires outside the precinct, according to KGW8, the local NBC affiliate.

At around 10 p.m., after declaring the protest a riot, law enforcement officers responded with tear gas, driving the demonstrators away from the precinct station into the surrounding residential neighborhood.

At 10:36 p.m., Azar posted a video on Twitter showing a police officer directing protesters to move north as another group of officers arrests someone on the ground in the middle of a street. Azar continues to film as officers push observers from the progressive legal organization National Lawyers Guild away as they try to film the arrest. About 40 seconds in, an officer appears to approach Azar, and then her camera goes askew as she yells out.

“They pushed me and nlg for trying to film this,” Azar, who didn’t respond to interview requests from the Tracker, wrote on the post accompanying the video.

The incident was also captured by Oregon Public Broadcasting reporter Sergio Olmos from across the street. About 45 seconds into footage he posted, an officer can be seen pushing the NLG observer and Azar. There was a combination of Portland police and Oregon State Police involved in clearing the protesters, according to Olmos.

Portland Police Bureau spokesman Derek Carmon declined to comment on the video and Azar’s allegation, citing continuing litigation.

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