U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Independent journalist shoved by law enforcement in Portland

Incident Details

Date of Incident
August 30, 2020
Portland, Oregon


Was the journalist targeted?
August 30, 2020

Independent journalist Nicholas Lee said he was pushed by law enforcement officers while documenting protesters getting arrested outside the Penumbra Kelly Building, in northeast Portland, Oregon on Aug. 30, 2020.

Lee was documenting one of the many nightly protests held in Portland in response to police violence and in support of the Black Lives Matter movement following the killing of George Floyd, a Black man, in Minneapolis on May 25. 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 the city to agree to a preliminary injunction in July to not arrest, harm or impede the work of journalists or legal observers of the protests.

The Kelly building has been a repeated focus of demonstrators because it houses the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office and some Portland Police Bureau units. The Aug. 30 protest was declared an “unlawful assembly” at 10:40 p.m. after protesters threw rocks and eggs at officers, according to the local KATU news station. Law enforcement officers pushed people to the west of the building, Lee told the Tracker.

Lee was covering a confrontation between protesters and law enforcement across the street at around 11 p.m. when the incidents occurred.

In a video posted to Twitter, an officer from the sheriff’s department is seen pushing back Lee, who was wearing a helmet and backpack marked as “press,” while telling him to “back up.” Lee can be heard responding, “I’m on the sidewalk.”

“[The officer] pushed me into a bush,” Lee said.

The MCSCO didn’t respond to a request for comment. 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].