- Date of Incident
- November 4, 2020
- Mason Lake (Freelance)
- Law enforcement
- Was the journalist targeted?
Independent photojournalist Mason Lake said he was pushed by law enforcement officers while covering demonstrations in Portland, Oregon, on Nov. 4, 2020.
Protests had been held in Portland on almost a nightly basis since the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25. The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker is documenting assaults, arrests and other incidents involving journalists covering BLM protests across the country.
There were two main demonstrations in Portland on Nov. 4, with one group calling for every vote cast in the U.S. presidential election to be counted and another expressing a combination of dismay with the electoral system and support for the Black Lives Matter movement. While the protests were organized separately, the two groups converged briefly at one point in the night. After some protesters smashed windows of downtown businesses, law enforcement officers declared the protests a “riot” at around 6:45 p.m.
Several law enforcement agencies were involved in policing the protests, with the Portland Police Bureau, Multnomah County Sheriff's Office and Oregon State Police all working together after Oregon Gov. Kate Brown ordered a “unified command” to respond to protests. The Oregon National Guard was also activated to help with enforcement.
The initial round of shoving incidents reported occurred a little after 8 p.m. near the corner of Southwest Park Ave. and Southwest Washington Street, where a group of journalists got caught up in a push by law enforcement officers to clear protestors from the area.
Lake was documenting law enforcement officers arresting someone on the ground when he got shoved, he told the Tracker. A video of the incident published on Twitter by freelance journalist Sergio Olmos shows police and state officers pushing multiple protesters and apprehending someone on the ground. The footage captures a state trooper pushing Lake, wearing a helmet marked “press” on the back and sides, several times before finally pushing him to the ground about 25 seconds into the video.
“I was shoved to the ground,” Lake told the Tracker. “My hand and knuckle had a bruise on it, so I think a baton hit me.”
In response to the Tracker’s inquiries on this incident, Stephan Bomar, public affairs director of the Oregon Military Department, which oversees the National Guard, said in a statement: “It appears as though during this chaotic situation that all remained safe and secure.”
Since July, law enforcement officers from the PPB and federal agencies have been barred by court rulings from arresting, harming or impeding journalists or legal observers of the protests. The American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Oregon didn’t include the state police or National Guard when it filed the cases.
The PPB has said it wouldn't comment on incidents involving journalists covering the protests, citing the continuing ACLU litigation. The Oregon State Police didn’t respond to a request for comment on the shoving incidents.
The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker catalogues press freedom violations in the United States. Email tips to [email protected]