Independent photojournalist says was pushed to the ground by Portland police

August 11, 2020

Independent photojournalist Maranie Staab was pushed to the ground by Portland police while covering protests in downtown Portland on Aug. 11, 2020.

Staab, whose photos of the 2020 protests in Portland have been published by Reuters, The New Yorker and Agence France-Presse, told the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker that she was documenting a protest in downtown Portland, where demonstrators had been gathering nightly in response to police violence and in support of the Black Lives Matter movement following the May 25 killing of George Floyd, a Black man, in Minneapolis.

At 1:40 a.m. on Aug. 11, Staab said she was at the Portland Police Bureau’s North Precinct station, covering what she said was an arrest of a woman leaving the protest area. Shortly before midnight, Portland Police declared an unlawful assembly at the North Precinct area and tweeted that people should leave or be subject to arrest, citation or crowd control actions. In a video Staab shared on Twitter, officers can be seen running across the street, surrounding a car and yelling at individuals to “get out of the road.”

About 15 seconds in from a video shared by independent journalist Anissa Matlock, Staab turns to walk away from the scene and is pushed from behind by a police officer. With a camera in her right hand and a phone on a stabilizing device for recording in her left, she falls face forward onto a bush, then turns over to continue documenting the scene. In the video Staab can be heard saying, “I’m a member of the press and you just threw me to the ground.”

At the time, a preliminary injunction issued by a U.S. District Court judge barred Portland police officers from harming, arresting or impeding journalists.

Staab said the same officer who pushed her during the Aug. 11 protest had assaulted her more than five times. “I was wearing a big blue vest with white writing and there’s no mistaking me that I’m press,” Staab told the Tracker.

The Portland Police Bureau has said they wouldn't comment on incidents involving journalists covering the protests, citing continuing litigation.

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

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