An unidentified man threatened independent photojournalist Maranie Staab with a gun as she covered protests in downtown Portland, Oregon on Oct. 24, 2020.
Staab, whose photos of the protests in Portland have been published by Reuters, The New Yorker and Agence France-Presse, was documenting one of the protests that have been held almost nightly in the city 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. The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker is documenting assaults, arrests and other incidents involving journalists covering protests across the country.
On the night of Oct. 24, Staab was covering demonstrations near the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement building, which has increasingly become a focus of the demonstrations, in South Portland.
At around 11 p.m., two men drove by in an unmarked vehicle, said Staab. She was filming at the time because there had been “suspicious vehicles driving around” and “a lot of intimidation happening,” she told the Tracker.
In a video she tweeted, the driver of the car can be seen pointing the gun through his passenger side window and calling her a “bitch.”
“I had my phone up making video and happened to catch him pointing a handgun directly at me,” Staab recalled.
After threatening Staab. the men got out of their car a few hundred feet away and then started to threaten protesters, yelling phrases like “All lives matter!” and “Back the blue!” One of the men said he was military, but there is no evidence to verify that claim, according to Staab. In a different video Staab tweeted, protesters can be heard chanting “Black lives matter!” in response.
The men continued to aggravate protesters until members of the crowd helped de-escalate the situation, she said.
Freelance photojournalist Cole Howard tweeted several photographs of the situation. “The man in the green sweatshirt though not affiliated with the protest de-escalated the situation,” he wrote.
While Staab didn’t file a police report, she said she has been actively working to identify the individuals and is speaking to an attorney to discuss potential legal action.